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Should the Breeding of Parrots in the UK be banned?

A parrot rescue centre has said that the breeding of parrots should cease in the UK as a measure to tackle the huge number of the birds which are abandoned every year. Many people are attracted to parrots as pets but do not realise the challenges of caring for the birds until it is too late. A shocking 85% of parrots in the UK are sold or dumped by their owners within two years of being purchased, according to figures released by the Parrot Society UK.

Too Many Parrots

It appears that there are simply too many birds versus the number of people who can care for them properly. Birdline Parrot Rescue in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset currently has a staggering 3,000 parrots in its care. At one stage, the sanctuary was taking in as many as 100 birds a month. Many experts also feel that parrots should receive greater protection in the wild to prevent specimens being taken for the pet trade.

Lucrative Business

The PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association) UK pet population report, for 2016-17, has revealed that there are roughly 700,000 pet birds in the UK. Breeders can earn good money from the sale of parrots, with African greys and macaws achieving price tags of more than £1,000. But many of those who buy them have the funds to invest in the birds but don’t really understand the implications of caring for them.

Long Lives and Lively Minds

Parrots can live for up to 100 years. They need constant simulation due to their high level of intelligence and they can be very noisy. Even the humble budgie has complex needs and should be properly understood before an owner takes on one or more of the birds. The bigger the species the more difficult they are to deal with. Parrots generally have the intelligence of a two-year-old human but the intellect of an African Grey is nearer to that of a four-year-old.

If left alone for long periods, parrots’ behavioural problems can include pulling out their feathers, screeching, destructiveness and aggression towards their owner. The resulting noise can be a major issue and so Moluccan cockatoos can be particularly challenging pets. Considered to be the noisiest bird in the world, the cockatoo’s screech can reach 135db, just 5db less than a jumbo jet!

Birds which Outlive their Owners

With the birds living for decades, any issues will impact virtually the whole of an owner’s life. It is also difficult to find someone to leave a parrot to in your will and so many pets end up in sanctuaries if they outlive their owners, which they often do. If the birds bond well with their owners they can see other people as rivals. This can result in the partners of parrot enthusiasts being attacked.

If breeding isn’t banned it would certainly help if potential keepers were obliged to learn about the species they are keen to keep before taking the plunge. Perhaps a trial period would be a good idea? If people had to live with a parrot for month before they were allowed to have their own bird, those who are ill equipped to care for parrots would discover their mistake before another bird requires a place at a sanctuary.


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