As API supporters know, thousands of birds are exploited every year in the lucrative exotic “pet” trade. Despite the scale of these animals’ suffering, their plight remains a relatively overlooked one. That’s why API has made captive birds a key component of our “More Beautiful Wild” campaign. Through More Beautiful Wild, we aim to reduce the number wild-caught and captive-bred birds who are exploited in the international and domestic pet trade.
This article provides an update on the very latest activities in our fight to protect wild birds, and to keep them in their rightful place: in the wild.
National Bird Day
For the past three years, API, in coordination with the Avian Welfare Coalition, has called on activists around the United States to take action on behalf of captive birds on January 5 — National Bird Day.
The 2005 National Bird Day got the new year off to a strong start with a redesigned website (www.NationalBirdDay.com) and a wide variety of bird advocacy activities across the country.
Hundreds of advocates gave birds the gift of their time by learning more about the issues surrounding the bird trade by viewing API’s documentary film, Wild at Heart: Exotic Birds and the Pet Trade (copies of which are available through API’s website, or by calling us at 1-800-348-7387); writing letters opposing the sale of birds at Petco and PETsMART; and distributing flyers in their communities about the plight of wild birds.
Here is a brief sampling of some of the National Bird Day activities that dedicated advocates put together around the U.S. (a full report is available at www.nationalbirdday.com).
- Arizona: Tucson’s TARA Bird Clinic held a public education event, complete with presentations on international conservation, native birds, the exotic bird trade, exotic bird sanctuaries, and avian veterinary care. The event received media attention from the Arizona Daily Star.
- California: The monthly Sacramento Pet Gazette ran a feature story on National Bird Day and the plight of exotic birds in captivity and in the wild. Sacramento’s Public Access television station aired two documentaries about birds: API’s Wild at Heart and Project Bird Watch’s The People and Parrots of Wild Indonesia.
- Missouri: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article about National Bird Day, highlighting the plight of captive birds and discussing the many misconceptions about caring for parrots.
- New Mexico: Animal Protection of New Mexico activists leafleted the Albuquerque Petco store and held signs discouraging shoppers from patronizing stores that exploit birds and other animals.
- Pennsylvania: Isaac’s Restaurant and Deli, with 19 locations in south-central Pennsylvania, hosted a kids’ activity night. National Bird Day signs were hung in the windows and children made a variety of bird-related crafts.
- Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia: Activists in these states published newspaper Letters to the Editor about National Bird Day and the exploitation of wild birds.
Thanks to all of those who participated in the 2005 National Bird Day. Keep an eye on Animal Issues and the More Beautiful Wild website for more information about next year’s event, or give us a call to discuss your ideas. It’s never too soon to start planning for National Bird Day 2006!
Building on our recent success in California with the passage of a bill prohibiting the sale of unweaned parrots in pet shops, API took its model legislation to Minnesota this year.
While our bill did receive a sponsor and much support, this piece of legislation was temporarily placed on the back burner due to pressing budget-related issues in the state. API looks forward to passing this bill in Minnesota and other states in the future.
At the beginning of 2005, a far-reaching animal protection law went into effect in Austria. Among the law’s many provisions is a country-wide ban on the artificial hand feeding of birds for commercial purposes. Passage of this law can serve as an example and an inspiration to activists in the U.S. working to end the exploitation of birds in the “pet” trade.
Although the suffering faced by exotic birds may be a hidden crisis, API works actively to bring the issue to light. Join us by educating yourself and others about the plight of “pet” birds, and by getting active on National Bird Day (or any day of the year). Let us know if we can be of assistance to you in your efforts. We’re here to help you — and the birds!