Avian Welfare Coalition Flocks Together to Address Protection and Welfare of Exotic Birds
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2002
This June, Arlington, VA, was the site of the 2nd Annual Avian Welfare Round Table hosted by the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC). While the commercialization of birds as "pets" and their mass-production for the bird trade has swelled the number of captive birds in the U.S., many species continue to face extinction in their native habitats. This has resulted in new challenges for avian welfare, shelters, humane organizations, animal care professionals, veterinarians, and conservationists striving to improve the lives of birds, both in captivity and in the wild.
The AWC is a working alliance of representatives from bird adoption, rescue, and sanctuary groups, humane societies, animal advocacy organizations, published research biologists, shelter and research veterinarians, and attorneys and other animal law specialists dedicated to the ethical treatment and protection of birds living in captivity and in their natural habitats. The AWC's goal is to heighten awareness regarding the pet industry's exploitation of parrots and to facilitate cooperation among all its participants in addressing the concerns of captive bird welfare, including preventing the abuse, exploitation, and suffering of captive birds, addressing the crucial issues of rescue, placement, and sanctuary for displaced birds, and supporting efforts to insure the survival of wild birds and the conservation of their natural habitats. Through the cooperation of its participants, the AWC seeks to spur a new avian welfare movement — one that promotes a better understanding of the special characteristics and needs of birds and challenges the status quo of bird-keeping and how captive birds are treated in our society.
"We saw the need to bridge the existing gap between the avian and animal welfare communities in order to provide a safety net for the growing numbers of displaced captive birds, a problem that is now affecting animal welfare organizations nationwide as a result of the commercialization of exotic birds and other animals by the pet trade," says Denise Kelly, Co-Founder of the Avian Welfare Coalition.
The AWC meets annually at its Avian Welfare Round Table, an interactive forum for avian rescue groups and representatives from the humane and animal protection communities as well as professionals and experts in related fields. "The Avian Welfare Round Table was conceived as a collaborative effort among dedicated peers and colleagues to explore strategies that will meet the needs of displaced captive wild birds, generate public awareness, and extend more legal protection to birds exploited by the bird trade," explains Sybil Erden, AWC Co-Founder and Founder/Director of The Oasis Sanctuary in Phoenix, AZ.
This year's Avian Welfare Round Table, held June 68 in Arlington, VA, was a resounding success. The meeting was attended by representatives of major animal welfare and protection organizations (including HSUS, PETA, Best Friends Animal Society, In Defense of Animals, The Association of Sanctuaries, The Fund for Animals, Last Chance for Animals, and the Animal Protection Institute), as well as avian rescue, adoption, and sanctuary groups, avian ethologists, veterinarians, and biologists. The topics covered ranged from the ethics of keeping birds in captivity, commercialization, mass-production, and the sale of "unweaned" baby birds, to the role of humane, shelter, and animal welfare organizations in protecting captive birds and generating public awareness.
Although the avian and animal welfare groups that attended have diverse views and approaches to animal welfare issues, there was unanimous support and agreement that more proactive means were needed to generate public awareness regarding the plight of exotic birds, both in captivity and in the wild. The most significant outcome of this year's Round Table was each participant's commitment to utilize and combine available resources to create strenuous public education campaigns that address the plight of captive birds, improve the lives of birds in captivity, stop the trade in wild-caught birds, and garner support for bona fide conservation efforts.
"It was refreshing to see so many different animal advocacy groups in agreement and willing to work together to address the crucial concerns we face on a daily basis. The discussions were lively and thought-provoking and encouraged everyone to bring new perspectives to the table," says Eileen McCarthy, AWC Co-Founder and Executive Director of Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services in Minneapolis, MN.
The AWC sees this year's Round Table as a launching pad for more aggressive campaigns that focus on changing the status quo and the public's perception about keeping wild animals as "pets" — or even keeping wild animals in captivity at all.
If you are interested in covering this subject or would like more information about the Avian Welfare Coalition or the Avian Welfare Round Table, please contact Denise Kelly or Krista Menzel, Avian Welfare Coalition Coordinators, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site at http://www.avianwelfare.org.
Denise Kelly and Krista Menzel
Avian Welfare Coalition Coordinators
Web Site: http://www.avianwelfare.org
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