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The Sustainability of Keeping Birds as Pets: Should Any Be Kept?

1
Taipei Zoo, No.30, Sec.2, Xinguang Road, Taipei 116, Taiwan
2
Department of Veterinary Medicine and St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jukka Jokimäk
Animals 2021, 11(2), 582; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020582
Received: 6 December 2020 / Revised: 17 February 2021 / Accepted: 18 February 2021 / Published: 23 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Ethics)
The trade in birds for pet trade is harming wild bird populations and bird welfare. Inadequate housing of many pet birds results in stereotypies and other indicators of poor welfare in the birds that are currently widespread. Some pet birds were taken from the wild or bred in poor conditions, while others had nutritional, health, and behavioral problems resulting from inadequate living conditions and incorrect husbandry by the bird owners. As a consequence, it is not ethically right to keep the majority of the birds that are at present kept as pets. If birds are to be continued as a companion animal for people, then more effort should be made by pet shop owners and veterinarians to supply literature to prospective owners highlighting not only the proper care for the species of bird but also its needs and requirements, so that bird owners can do their utmost to meet them. Owners do not comply with laws requiring duty of care, unless they obtain and act on such information and also have knowledge of how to provide good nutrition and minimize the risk of disease. New laws are needed to prohibit taking birds from the wild and keeping birds in conditions that do not meet their needs.
We describe a wide range of unethical and unsustainable practices inherent to the trading and keeping of pet birds. At present, biodiversity and wild bird populations are being greatly harmed and many individual birds have poor welfare. Wild-caught birds should not be sold to the public as pets, or to breeding establishments for several reasons, including because 75–90% of wild-caught birds die before the point of sale and taking birds from the wild has negative effects on biodiversity. The housing provided for pet birds should meet the needs of birds of that species and allow good welfare, for example there should be no small cages but aviaries with space for each bird to exercise adequately, and social birds should be kept in social groups. At present, inadequate housing of many pet birds results in stereotypies and other indicators of poor welfare in birds. Owners should have knowledge of how to provide good nutrition and minimize the risk of disease. Unless these changes are made, keeping birds as pets should not be permitted. New laws are needed to prohibit taking birds from the wild and ensure captive pet birds in conditions that do meet their needs. View Full-Text
Keywords: pet birds; biodiversity; welfare; ethics pet birds; biodiversity; welfare; ethics
MDPI and ACS Style

Peng, S.; Broom, D.M. The Sustainability of Keeping Birds as Pets: Should Any Be Kept? Animals 2021, 11, 582. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020582

AMA Style

Peng S, Broom DM. The Sustainability of Keeping Birds as Pets: Should Any Be Kept? Animals. 2021; 11(2):582. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020582

Chicago/Turabian Style

Peng, Shawn, and Donald M. Broom. 2021. "The Sustainability of Keeping Birds as Pets: Should Any Be Kept?" Animals 11, no. 2: 582. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020582

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