Advocacy Starts with All of Us

Advocacy can halt the loss.

Advocacy Starts with All of Us

How sadly it reflects on mankind that the concept of "advocacy", and especially in the case of the living world around us, has become so prevalent in modern society. Groups in support of saving the rain forest, protecting various types of marine life, and groups supporting animal welfare are noticed in all forms of social media of late. While these types of groups and organizations are good, and important, it is sad that we as a species have forced them into existence. The truth is, we do not respect the bounty that life here on planet Earth has provided us, and would carelessly see it turned into a waste land; and so the thoughtful few take on the heartless many.

Having said that, I would like to turn my attention towards parrots which are in fact the reason we are all here to begin with. While I know that the fate of our winged brethren is no more (or less) important than that of other species, I also know that unlike so many others who have been put in harms way at our hands, or who have been forced into a domestic life within the human household, parrots differ in many ways other than the mere gift of flight. Besides their high intelligence and emotional capabilities, their physiognomy also differs in ways that make them far more susceptible to the dangers of a human-household than most other commonly kept companion animals. Combine this with the fact that parrots are often an impulse buy and the situation too often becomes untenable, and many times even fatal for the parrot. This being the case, the misunderstood new companion quickly becomes an unwelcome guest in a world he never requested being a part of. 

Now enter the parrot sanctuary or rescue, for an increasing number of unwanted, poorly treated and often abused birds are bound for this destination. It is the price of trying to domesticate animals who are not easily domesticated or tamed. In my opinion, while an acceptable balance can be reached in a human house-hold between parrot and caretaker, the truth is a great deal of information, patience and time must be allotted this task, and it does not fall within the framework of instant gratification which what the normal human seems to thrive most within. The thought that a small cage, some seed, and an occasional hello can turn a beautiful winged creature into a playful, talkative and obedient servant is far from the common parrot-purchaser thought processes. Birds are not domesticated animals (I believe their intelligence and natural instincts preclude that ever being the case), and do not really conform to rules so much as learn acceptable limits through long learning and reward systems that humans in general fall short of the patience needed to teach. And, perhaps even more importantly, the humans themselves have to learn their limits from the parrot point of view. All of this leads to a situation not suited to most "pet" seekers taste nor conviction. It is a special sort of person, possessive of a great deal of empathy who can enter the world or parrot companionship and care giving. Many basically good, and well meaning people have fallen far short of the mark, and while that doesn't mean they are bad people, it does illustrate the difficulties of companion parrot care.

I share my home with six parrots of 5 different species. They are all equal members of the household, and within certain limitations are free to roam and play, chew and bond as they see fit. At night (for saftey purposes) they all return to their respective cages to roost until next day when they are again free to enjoy what they can of their unnatural environment. I don't think I will ever stop feeling guilty for the way they are forced to live, but I also know that they are not fit to be in the wild, as their psychology has been damaged by being brought into the world in a domesticated breeding program, and forced to adapt to so many aspects of an unnatural (for them) life. Do they seem happy? I would have to say yes. Are they well taken care of? Of course we try to provide the very best for them that we can. Are they parrots? I would have to say no, and to modify my answer by saying further that they are a sort of hybrid human/parrot breed who manage to exist in both worlds through a complex system of understanding, patience and acceptance that is probably far beyond our own ability to develop. They are beautiful, intelligent and quirky little thrill seekers who can at times captivate, at times frustrate. They like to please, but they also like to test limits. They have great senses of human, and often laugh (although not all do so in the normal human concept of laughter). Most importantly, I think, is that they love in a way of unconditional acceptance of those loved.

Many species of parrot are either now extinct, or endangered as a direct result of mans disregard of the natural world, and his constant and ever increasing need for consumption. Most recent is the last known wild member of the Spix macaw species dying alone in his isolated freedom. This was our fault. The reasons are many, but the fact itself is singular; WE DO NOT RESPECT THE RIGHT OF OTHER SPECIES ON THIS PLANET. And so he is gone, and presumably, the total extinction of his species not far behind. While there are a number of Spix macaws currently in captivity or breeding programs, their numbers are low, and more importantly their gene pool probably not diverse enough to allow for successful reintegration ever to fully take hold and flourish.

I believe that through advocacy many now in danger as a result of man's interference with the natural course of things (list parrots among the possible) can be saved. But it will require a great deal of dedication to such endeavor, much media frenzy, much devotion to those already working towards that goal. People such as all of you are no more than a stepping stone to greater possibilities, and we need to all together raise our voices loudly, dedicate our time, and where possible money, to the task if we are to save even one bird; there are thousands who demand it sitting in rescues and sanctuaries. We have brought them into our homes against their express desires, and it is our job to see that they are better taken care of. Please everyone, get out there and make your voices heard. The problem is ever increasing, and it must turn the corner to a lesser extreme.

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