Animal Writes
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From 26 December 2004 Issue

Please Join Us for the Third Annual National Bird Day, January 5, 2005

The Animal Protection Institute (API) in coordination with the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) is calling on activists around the U.S. to take action on behalf of captive birds by drawing attention to the exploitation of other country’s native birds by the U.S. pet industry on January 5 — National Bird Day.

"National Bird Day" is not only a good day to take time to appreciate the native wild birds flying free outside our windows, it is also a perfect time to reflect on how we treat the native birds of other countries. While we have enacted laws to protect our native birds — such as blue jays, cardinals, and crows — from commercial exploitation, we fail to recognize the inconsistency in allowing the pet industry to exploit the birds of other countries.

Even when bred in captivity, exotic birds are not considered domesticated animals, and all their inherent behavioral and physical needs remain intact. Sadly, when it comes to birds, deprivation of their natural behaviors (to fly and flock, for example) is an inescapable component of their captivity.

Each year thousands of birds are sold into the pet trade to individuals who are under the mistaken impression that a bird will make a perfect pet. Eventually, whether due to frustration, disinterest, or concern, many people attempt to rid themselves of the responsibility of caring for their birds. Unfortunately, few of these birds will find a loving home, and most will spend their days isolated and confined to their cages. Others will bounce from home to home as their caretakers tire of them, and some may be abandoned at local shelters and birds rescues, set free to fend for themselves, or are euthanized.

Meanwhile, pet stores across the country, including Petco and PetsMart, continue to treat birds like merchandise peddling them into the pet trade. The in-store care of animals in pet shops is always suspect, because store managers are often faced with conflicting responsibilities of caring for animals, even when the animals are sick, and making a store profitable. Since the cost of veterinary care can easily exceed the commercial value of an animal, common sense leads to the conclusion that profits and animal care inherently conflict, especially in a retail environment.

You Can Help

Join API, the Avian Welfare Coalition, and other animal advocates across the country in celebrating the third annual National Bird Day — a day of action for captive birds — by helping to educate the public about issues affecting captive birds.

There are many ways you can participate. Visit for sample letters, resources, materials and more information.

Take Action!

* Send a letter to the editor or Op-ed drawing attention to the plight of captive exotic birds in this country. Sample letter available at
* Set up an educational display. Community centers and local or school libraries often have exhibit cases that can be used for educational displays. Just ask the manager or librarian how to make a reservation and be willing to agree to some guidelines.
* Host a video showing. A video showing can consist of close friends or family members viewing a video at home or reserving a classroom with a standard television or big screen for the public. Videos are available from AWC members. Visit for ordering information.
* Give a presentation at a school, children’s museums, boy’s and girl’s club, or library. Ask the kids to draw or write on the theme "Born to be Wild," comparing and contrasting our native birds to the native birds of other countries, comparing and contrasting how birds live in the wild and how they live in captivity, or how the wild bird trade impacts birds. More ideas available at:
* Hold a peaceful protest and leaflet in front of a Petco or PetsMart to educate their customers on why they should not support Petco or PetsMart so long as they continue to sell birds. Or drive to your local Petco and PetsMart stores and place flyers on the windshields of cars parked in the parking lot.
<> A reproducible Petco/PETsMART flyer is available from API at
<>A variety of AWC flyers is available at
* Write letters to Petco and PetsMart and let them know why you won’t patronize their stores. Sample letter available at

Let us know your plans!

We would like to compile a list of activities complete with contact information so that interested people team up to participate in planned leafleting and tabling events in their area. So once you have decided what you want to do, email Monica Engebretson at [email protected] so we can add your action to our list of participants and activities. If you get a letter to the editor published in a newspaper, please let us know and send a copy if possible to:

P.O. Box 22505
Sacramento, CA 95822

For more information on exotic bird issues visit and

Go on to Just The Facts
Return to 26 December 2004 Issue
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