Bird zoos: 5 reasons why birds suffer in zoos

In addition to many mammals such as lions, polar bears and the like, all species of birds also suffer captivity for the amusement of people in zoos. Not many visitors know about the gross violations of bird breeding. For these five reasons, you should not visit bird and falcon gardens, zoos, zoos and other places that display and sometimes use birds for shows.

1. Trimming the wings: why don’t the birds in the zoo fly away?

Very few people know why birds like flamingos “voluntarily” stay in open ponds in zoos – or perhaps mistakenly believe that animals can’t fly at all. Zoos are distorting some bird species by making them “flyless”. Waterfowl such as flamingos, swans and geese are mostly affected.

To do this, part of the bird’s flight feathers are regularly cut off or surgical intervention is used to prevent flight feathers, which are important for flight, from growing back. Either way, zoos are robbing birds of an important kind of their natural behavior in motion: the animals can no longer fly. This should keep the birds grounded and be nice to look at zoo visitors: indoors on ponds.

Although both methods are prohibited under the Animal Welfare Act, such violations of the current legal status are still tolerated by authorities in many places. In addition, most of the bird species in question are not endangered in the wild and are not kept for reasons of species protection, but only for display purposes. We in PETA Germany demand that the flight deficit ends and that these situations be phased out as quickly as possible – because the birds belong in the wild, not in zoos.

Flamingos at the Berlin Zoo
Some species of animals, such as flamingos, are made “flyless” so that they do not fly far from their enclosures.

2. Connecting birds of prey in bird and falcon gardens

In falcons and raptor parks, birds of prey, hawks or owls are kept and exploited for various purposes: on the one hand, the regular use of animals in the so-called falcons. Raptors decompose into weapons and often have to starve in order to be “spread out”. On the other hand, wild birds like eagles, hawks, hawks, eagle owl and the like are misused in the show and thus for profit entertainment purposes in the flying shows in front of a paying audience.

In many amusement parks and falcons, animals are confined in tight cages or tied to wooden beams with leather straps for several hours. In this so-called tying of birds of prey, they lead a harsh and disenfranchised life in chains. Only if the birds were given the opportunity to “free fly” by falconers, could they move according to their species for a short time.

Air hawk shows give the impression that the birds are returning voluntarily. However, this supposed affinity is imposed by humans in advance: raptors or owls are usually wrongly imprinted on humans as small animals and are trained by starving them of food. This makes the wild animals subordinate and docile, so that they always return to the falconers. In some cases, the animals also have to act as an attraction so the audience can hold them in their arms to take selfies or even pet them – even nocturnal or active owls are often ruthlessly displayed against their normal rhythm of activity during the day. [1] This involuntary contact with humans is very stressful for wild birds. Birds chained or caged do not reflect a realistic picture of wildlife.

3. Penguins suffer in captivity

Penguins in zoos die again and again as a result of improper captivity. Penguins are particularly susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections, which are favored by poor keeping conditions – such as abnormal weather conditions or transport stress. [2, 3] If such infectious diseases appear, they often eliminate large parts of the entire penguin population.

  • In 2011, 19 of 32 Humboldt penguins died at the Dresden Zoo. According to veterinary investigations, fungal infections along with bacterial infections led to mass death. [4]
  • In 2018, 11 out of 13 penguins at Hoyerswerda Zoo died – also from an infection caused by mold, an autopsy by the Saxony State Research Institute found. [5]
  • Many penguins around the world die from malaria. [6]

Penguins have enormous demands on their habitat that a zoo cannot fulfill. Flightless seabirds mostly live in the cold climates of the Southern Hemisphere. They are highly social animals, some of which form large colonies for reproduction. They are denied all of these behaviors in zoo captivity (Title: Animal Suffering in Zoos). Since sensitive birds are very susceptible to stress, some zoos have given them psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants.

Humboldt penguin
Putting penguins in a cage for entertainment is neither suitable for the species nor suitable for animals.

4. Raising birds in cages or cages that are narrow or dirty

Countless birds, including various songbirds, parrots, pheasants or pigeons, are kept in zoos, animal parks, and bird parks in horrific conditions to entertain zoo visitors. Time and time again we receive whistleblower reports of catastrophic bird farming. Animals often have very few job opportunities or a severe shortage of space, and sometimes there are also poor hygiene conditions such as cages full of dirt and droppings. Poor housing conditions can also lead to behavioral disturbances in birds: for example, they may pluck their feathers until bald spots appear.

5. There is a risk of death even in very large birds

Usually, birds, including large predators such as owls and even eagles, with a wingspan of more than two meters, are kept in the so-called aviaries. However, it is impossible for animals to perform normal flight behavior in wire cages.

While cages that are too small mean great suffering and great limitations for caged birds, cages that are large and supposedly spacious are not suitable for the species either: The Association of Animal Welfare Veterinarians, for example, notes that panic reactions in especially large cages can cause It leads to injury and death, when birds reach very high speeds and hit a wire mesh. [5]

Owl in the Scottish Bird Park
For birds like owls, captivity means a life of hardship and suffering.

Help the penguins in Lübbenau now

The so-called Erlebnisbad Spreewelten in Lübbenau keeps captive Humboldt penguins for sale to zoos around the world. Help save futuristic penguins from exploitation for entertainment by signing.

  • sources

    [1] Scherzinger, Wolfgang (2017): Aspects of owl breeding relevant to animal welfare; Eulen-Rundblick No. 67, p. 31-36, (Accessed 04.05.2022)

    [1] MDR Fernsehen, MDR at 2 (09/28/2021): What next for the penguins in the Hoyerswerda Zoo?, (Accessed on 05/04 2022)

    [1] Welt (July 20, 2011): The mysterious death of penguins poses a mystery to experts, (Accessed May 4/ May), 2022)

    [2] Sächsische Zeitung (December 11, 2018): The zoo’s penguin colony has almost been exterminated, (Accessed May 4 2022)

    [3] Munch, Thomas A.; (Feb 10, 2006): Thesis: Retrospective and prospective assessment of the causes of bird mortality at the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Muench_Thomas.pdf (Accessed 04.05 .222)

    [4] TierWelt (May 24, 2017): Enclosure penguin malaria alert, (Accessed May 4, 2022)

    [5] Veterinary Animal Welfare Association (2006): Tips for Monitoring Birds of Prey. Pamphlet No. 107, auction__2006_.pdf&did=144 (Accessed 04.05.2022)

    [6] Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (October 26, 2005): Conservation of parrots, (Accessed May 4, 2022)

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