WHY ARE THE BIRDS IN AVIARIES?
(most frequently asked question by tourists and lodge owners)

 I have always thought it was unfortunate that the word “safari” used mostly by the Massi in Kenya and Tanzania has been associated with hunting because in Swahili it simply means, to journey. I have been fortunate to have, over the years, journeyed to and guiided many safaris in Africa. Kenya and Tanzania having more species of birds than Costa Rica, Central America and the U.S. combined is a birder’s paradise.
Some years ago I was sitting around a campfire in East Africa enjoying sundowners with good friends and some acquaintances from past safaris listening to lions roaring in the near distance.
All were introducing themselves one by one and describing their professions.When it came to me a drunken voice blared out from across the fire, “oh, that’s Patrick he’s a bird trader.” All fell silent. I kept my cool. This coming from a man who admittedly as a boy shot and killed now critically endangered Black Rhinoceros in his front yard on Ngorongoro Crater that is now a World Heritage site where we were lodging at that moment. I then said, “thanks John you make me sound like a pirate.” Of course his statement could not be further from the truth. I said, the truth is, I owned and operated an endangered species breeding facility for 17 years while directing Kauai Zoological Gardens simultaneously on the island of Kauai in the state of Hawaii.The conversation soon sparked up and people began asking questions. I went on to explain that I do not trade birds at all. In fact, I have never knowingly sold a bird to a pet shop that I am aware of. Sure we must surplus some specimens here at Ave Azul that are well established in captivity to insure genetic diversity and help support day to day operations here at the farm, but since the goal of our program is species recovery, no endangered birds are placed outside our breeding programs until it’s sex is determined and it’s reproductive potential assessed with the possible exception being an over represented gene pool or an abundance of males which many macaw species tend to run long in.Trades, however, are often done with others who need to expand their gene pools as well.The object is to create unrelated pairs of birds from founder (F1) stock for future propagation. Much of the above activity is strictly regulated and requires the permission of an international agreement known as CITES, pronounced cy-tees. This treatie’s initials stand for the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. A meeting held by the world’s signators to the treaty just finished up it’s 17th conference in Johannesburg South Africa September 24th through October 5th where everything from discussing up or down grading the status of many animals, birds and plants to the issue of releasing the stock piles of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn which, by the way, were voted down by secret ballot. Of the 205 countries presently in existence as of this writing, some 183 countries are party to the treaty including Costa Rica a founding signator. The treaty attempts to regulate, monitor and track the possession, movement and trade of some 35,000 registered mammals, birds, plants, insects and corals to prevent their over exploitation. Our entire program is jurisdicted by CITES. This organization made it possible for me to move my collection from the U.S (Hawaii) to Costa Rica. Special documents must be obtained to move any CITES protected species over state lines or international borders. Both the exporting country (United States) and the importing country ( Costa Rica) in this case must agree on the legitamacy, validity and legal possession of my collection. I had to provide documentation that none of the specimens requesting to be moved were taken or obtained from the wild. Thanks to my extensive record keeping dating back to 1973 I was able to confirm that in fact, all my stock was captive bred. Even after all this the process still took near 3 years to meet the criteria and requirements. My request was first reviewed by United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Then the application is sent to the Division of Wildlife Management Authority in Washington D.C. to be reviewed by a panel of scientists and after thorough investigation they make the decision and determination as to what species and numbers can or cannot be moved to Costa Rica. After approval of all specimens the collection had to be quarantined for 30 days in California before exportation. No birds in or out.Testing for everything from Volgenic New Castles disease (VVND) to West Nile virus was required. Special shipping crates constructed of certified material and demensions were also required and inspected. After several weeks of testing I finally got the release forms and the o.k. to ship. International health certificates are very perishable and only valid for 12 days so I had to make my move immediately.
There are three levels to the appendices of CITES. Appendix I: being critically endangered and the highest level of protection afforded to any species – near half of my collection fell under under this category. Appendix II: status: threatened and Appendix III: status: vulnerable – most all species covered by the treaty fall under this status. International laws and policies such as these are created and put into place to discourage all but the most serious to pursue exotic animal possession and transport.
I attended many meetings here in Costa Rica with no less than five agencies to state my case which was to allow a permit exception from the Costa Rican government for the entry of my bird collection into the country for the purposes of captive-breeding. I was often told by many this could not be done and I should just give up.To my knowledge, this had never been done before. Officals told me the window for such a request was only open ten percent. After some eight meetings over a period of 14 months they said the window was 75 percent open. Often I would fly down for a meeting with Zoo Sanatarios that was, for some reason, cancelled only to return to Hawaii to receive a message that the meeting was back on-one time the very next day! Meetings were held with Senasa, Sinac, Zoo Sanatarios, MINAE and the Plant and Animal Joint Advisory Commitee as well as university and federal veterinarians to inspect the farm facilities here in Agua Buena. My propagation records, veterinary protocol, food storage, program for progeny disposition and inspection of the enclosures were all the subject of a special visit from five doctors and their superior for two days. I was required to provide round trip flights from San Jose, rental cars, hotels, and meals for the group.
After a few required changes to the aviaries such as spring-loaded, self-closing double door entries of all steel construction, I received the all clear to ship notice from Costa Rica.Then I received another call just four days later telling me the whole deal was off as a result of the newly discovered Chinese bird flu H5N1 occurring in the U.S. The international conference on the subject was being held in of all places in the world, you guessed it, Costa Rica! I was told to wait a year and after the dust settled my permits and fees would still be honored as long as the species inventory remained the same and new health certificates were issued. After a five month period, many calls and internet conversations later it was finally determined that no pathogenic strain to humans of the virus was found in the U.S. and I was allowed to resume importation. After another round of re-testing, the collection finally arrived via “Delta Dash” , a very reliable service handling only live cargo that I have used many times in the past to transport everything from Kangaroos to Zebras. I then hired a certified ground expeditor (DHL) that wisked the containers to customs officals (ADUANA) who immediately took possession of the collection to go through the paperwork making sure all the stamps and signatures were in place from the United States and Costa Rica. U.S.D.A. federal identification stainless steel leg band numbers had to match each specimen to the paperwork. Then came the task of determining how to tax the collection as a restricted commodity, something I was not prepared for.The ammount paid being based on the value of the collection. I won’t say how, but after sitting in a customs warehouse where I fed and watered the birds twice a day for three days we finally sorted it out. After reviewing the international health certificates those were promptly put aside and the collection was again required to go through a provisional quarantine. The duration imposed this time was for 90 days at my farm here in Agua Buena, no birds (or people) in or out. At the end inspections were made and fecal swabs collected again and the collection was certified and passed.
This brings me to real reason for this article. A question posed to me by tourists, students and lodge owners a like. Why are the birds in aviaries? Or cages as some call them.
My answer is, because in this day and age for some species it has become necessary. The world’s wildlife guide to survival is being re-written.There is a race in fact, to save wildlife all over the world that is now on a collision course with humanity. One that needs to be dealt with right now not tomorrow if there is going to be any future for many. As captive breeders we know we cannot save everything ourselves but if each of us as responsible conservationists chooses just one species to work with and concentrates on that species we CAN make a difference. When one can actually count the numbers of a species on the planet, I believe that species needs work.The Hyacinth Macaw struck me as one of those needing work so I chose the bird as my flagship species. After more than 30 years of working with the birds Ave Azul is credited with breeding this macaw species into it’s third generation with 49 progeny to date, something that many said could not be done.These 49 birds add significantly to the entire status of the worldwide population of this, the largest and one of the rarest species of parrot and some 5,000 birds known to exsist. Additionally, it contributes to the genetic diversity of the species by broadening the gene pool and adding to what we know about Hyacinth Macaws as well as what we will need to know in the future about Hyacinth Macaws to insure that future.
This is a breeding project for endangered species and like one of many now going on around the world takes time to evolve. Generations must be built up in captivity before any re-introduction back into habitat can be considered. There are several organizations here in Costa Rica working hard to save endangered species through captive-breeding, especially parrots. There too, are some (and I do believe this warrants mention) in Costa Rica particularly here on the Osa that are masqueradeing as custodians of endangered birds to relieve unsuspecting donors of their money claiming to create programs for birds they do not even have (or, maybe one or two newly acquired specimens.) Before just handing out money one must ask questions. Look into the past as well as the present of what the recipient has done and is doing. As a great U.S. president once said, trust but verify.
The goal of Ave Azul is to create multiple generations of certain species of birds whether they are released back into suitable protected habitat or serve as Ambassadors for their species in captivity making sure their wild counterparts’ struggle for survival is not forgotten. Either way, I believe that each and every bird produced is, in fact, one more bird on the planet. Zoologists, aviculturists and conservationists are not waiting because too many species have been lost already. This past year Ave Azul released and hacked back out into the wild two very young Scarlet Macaws that were originally brought to us from two different sources and in very poor condition near a year earlier. One bird when received weighed less than 500 grams in full feather and at death’s door. Now both birds return near everyday to visit the Alemandro trees, Terminalia catappa here in the yard. That being another of our goals at Ave Azul is to rehabilitate and return to the wild as much wildlife as we are charged with.
Zoos are becoming matchmakers, the front line and first line of defense in the race to save the world’s wildlife. I don’t mean the mom and pop sideshows slowly going the way of the wind (and not soon enough.) Or that have in the past given the word “zoo” a bad name. I am talking about high tech facilities with the most modern of hospitals and highly trained professional animal technicians and veterinarians. Realistically natural spacious exhibits, quarantine areas, commissaries, nurseries, off exhibit breeding facilities, education departments, and outreach programs.
Already there are more specimens of many species in captivity than in the whole of their wild habitat. Some are even extinct in the wild leaving only what is left in captivity all there is on the planet making captive-breeding all the more important. Around the world serious plans are in the works by credible zoos and captive breeding facilities to re-stock species to suitable habitat with later generations of that stock for future propagation once that habitat has been secured. Pairing up animals zoogeographically has become serious business. Using systems such as “ISIS” or the International Species Inventory System, zoos can access the availability of some 50,000 specimens of many species around the world. Questions such as the sex, genetic relations, age and any other pertinent information can be quickly and easily answered. All of this now becoming quite standard procedure.

Nairobi, 1920. At the time the largest known tusk from African Elephant.

Man is too busy warring with himself to worry about the war on wildlife, and it is a war. Species are being lost at rates never before seen in history. African Elephants and rhinoceros are taking a huge hit right now. In 1920 there were 20 million elephants in continental Africa. By 1960 near six million. I was 13 years old in 1969 and there were four million and by 1979 only 1.3 million. Today less than 320,000 in total remain. They are going fast. We are losing them at a rate of one every 15 minutes, 96 a day and some 56,000 a year. Between 2010 and 2012 more than 100,000 alone were killed. In the 1970’s things had calmed considerably when the Endangered Species Act was passed. Elephants appeared to rebound for the next 30 years as the price of ivory fell from U.S. $1,300 a pound to just $3 a pound. Today, ivory is back up to $700 a pound. Why? Because there has been a recent surge in the desire to own ivory. What is fueling this crisis and international animal collapse? The rise of China’s middle class. The very newly rich and affluent young Asians too want what their parents had. The carved tusks, vases, chess sets, bird cages, screens, netsuke, jewelry and trinkets.The demand for ivory far exceeds the number of elephants on the planet. While much of the ivory poached is carved in Vietnam and Cambodia most all eventually ends up in the hands of the Chinese. Singapore too is a considerable consumer. Chop sticks alone account for nearly a quarter of all ivory carved.

1920 Elephant Safari (Safari means to journey in Swahili – not to hunt).

A single set sells for U.S. $ 1,500 in China. The Chinese buy entire sets of chop sticks for their families. Where is all this money going? To terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and Joseph Kony from the LRA or the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC.) He is the world’s most wanted ivory and human trafficker. They are slaughtering elephants with automatic weapons such as AK-47’s yelling “praise Allah” to get just one or two animals that may possess tusks; Time Magazine 2014. Entire herds are being slaughtered because the herd will not desert the fallen. Many are being taken by helicopters as the bullet holes have been observed on top of the animals’ heads indicating this. U.S. $600,000 alone last year (2015) went to Al-Shabaab.

Ahmad, the largest known tusker on record in the Natural History Museum in Nairobi, Kenya. Left tusk 176 lbs, right 178 lbs.

Some of the largest known tusker’s left are in Africa’s national parks and some of the biggest I have ever seen are in Ngorongoro Crater National Park Tanzania. Several are upwards of 50 years of age and have tusks that nearly drag the ground. They are guarded 24-7 not by one ranger but several and some with rocket launchers. I have seen this personally. Most are safe only within national parks. 150 Rangers a year are killed by poachers in East Africa alone. Most are paid very little and some nothing at all attempting to save their countries animals and wildlife heritage.
July 2016: A shipping container bound for Vietnam with a manifest listing the contents as pistachios was x-rayed when officals saw ivory instead. Four tons of raw tusks were unloaded making it Africa’s largest seizure to date. One can only imagine how many elephants this translated to.
An average of one and a half rhinoceros are killed everyday for their horns which are neither horn or bone but tightly compressed hair and contrary to belief possess no medicinal components whatsoever. In 2013 there were 688 killed (poached) up from 668 in 2012. At this rate some say the species and all sub-species will be extinct by 2030 or before. rhinopostnewThat same year in South Africa 1,215 were killed up from just 13 in 2007. But serious efforts are underway to prevent this. Animals are rapidly being brought into captivity for protection and reproduction in many parts of the world. Poaching is so rampant in some countries that it has become a race to see who will get them first, the poachers or conservationists. Many plans have been tried and failed such as cutting off horns, dying them colors and even placing micro-cameras and GPS in them. Conservationists are now finding it better to just bring what is left into captivity before it’s too late. In 1970 there were 70,000 Black Rhinoceros in continental Africa.Today and as of this month October 2016 there are 5055 Black Rhinoceros and near 20,000 Southern White Rhinoceros left in the wild.The Northern White Rhinoceros was just declared extinct in the wild in early 2015. That was a result of just about every Yemenese boy requiring a rhino horn handled dagger to pass to manhood. There are six females in San Pasquall California (formerly San Diego Wild Animal Park) and the last male there just expired four months ago June 2016. Nola was 44 years old and euthanized due to severe arthritis. There are also four females in protective custody in Kenya East Africa and no known males anywhere else in the world. The last known West African Black Rhinoceros became extinct as well just a few months before in March 2016. This leaves the Indian one-horned Rhinoceros, about 3,500; and most all in parks there. The Sumatran Rhinoceros, about 50; The Javan Rhinoceros, about 30; One animal too was recently discovered on Borneo. Believe me there are people out there right now trying to find ways to get at them. When an animal’s horn can fetch ten times the price of gold by weight there are those who will risk their lives to get it. Equally, there are those too who are willing to risk their lives to save and protect it. Many countries where rhinos occur have now adopted a “shoot to kill policy.” Attempts are no longer being made to apprehend anyone observed with a firearm in a national park. Museum exhibit glass across Europe is being smashed to get the rhino horn from the mounted specimens within. Museums are now exchanging the animals’ real horns with fake replacements and posting signage informing patrons.
The worst thing about this whole situation is that the horn is composed of nothing more than Keratin, the same material that our own hair and fingernails are made of. Again, containing no medicinal properties at all. Somehow I always gave the Chinese more credit than this for their supposed wisdom. If I could say just one thing to the Asians and their apothecary markets that are wreaking this havoc it would be to just bite your finger nails because it’s the same thing.
August 4th 2015: Three Chinese nationals were apprehended at the Zurich airport with four suitcases of cut up elephant ivory blocks weighing 578 lbs. An additional two pounds of African Lions teeth and claws were also discovered within the bags. 30 years ago there were half a million lions in continental Africa, today, less than 30,000 total remain. African Leopards are doing better with eight times as many as all lions and cheetahs combined. This could be due in part to the fact that the species is mainly nocturnal. One species, however, the Amur Leopard, Panther pardus orientalis from eastern Siberia and northern Korea numbers just 35 individuals left on the planet.
And what will they do when all the elephants and rhinos are gone? And, they will go. They will look at other animals that “wear” ivory. The Hippopotamus will be next. Untill now nobody cared much about the Hippopotamus. In fact, they eat so much that many zoos refrain from exhibiting them. But they have ivory teeth (tusks.) Then what? They will look north to the great artic herds of ivory laden Walrus that number somewhere under 100,000 specimens. Then the Narwhal for it’s single ivory unicorn-like spiral tusk. Recently National Geographic reported on Native Americans up in Alaska legally taking Narwhal tusks. They sell for as much as U.S. $4,000 each. One indian shot and killed with a high powered rifle 40 animals dead at breathing holes in the ice to get just one horn. The remainder sank into the abyss. Insane!

Confiscated Zebra skins.

This was published by an undercover writer in the magazine. And finally, toothed whales of which only one, the Sperm Whale will be targeted for it’s huge ivory teeth.
Recently a Texas hunter, Cory Knowlton won a “lottery” for the right to kill a Black Rhinoceros in Namibia. The government there has been issuing permits to do so. Mr. Knowlton went through with the hunt despite protests from around the world. He insists it was the right thing to do in the name of conservation. Says he has no problem with it and defends his decision. The animal was supposedly causing problems within the herd (totally natural being an ageing male) and so had to be culled, as they said. rhinos_patrickHe paid U.S. $350,000 for the right to take the animal. These people seek out weak and poor governments who rarely abide by international laws to get what they want. Just another trophy that their competitors do not have. If he was truly a conservationist and sincerely concerned for the welfare of the species as he says, he could have, would have, and should have taken that same money and used it to transport the animal to another national or game park where new blood and genes are desperately needed for such a critically endangered animal. Zoos and animal parks do this all the time. Do I really think the money went to conservation? No, I do not. I have worked in and out of Africa for near ten years and I can tell you that maybe a token ammount did. To be clear, I do not have a problem with hunting because it appears the populations of most game animals in North America are so stable and well managed that it is possible to do so. I do, however, have a problem with those who hunt endangered species especially for their own pleasure. And who takes pleasure in killing an endangered species anyway? Don’t animals such as these deserve our respect? The right to live out their lives in peace. Life out there is hard enough for them. These people are stealing your children’s future for their own personal gain.Think about that. Tigers are following a similar plight. At one time there were eight species of tigers on the planet.Today, half that.The Bali Tiger, Manchurian Tiger, Caspian Tiger declared extinct by 1955 and Javan Tiger that was last seen in the wild in 1972 are all gone forever. This leaves the Sumatran Tiger of which there are about 400; the Siberian Tiger which a 2005 survey found only 280-380; and the Indo-Chinese Tiger numbering between 350 and 400. The Bengal Tiger totals somewhere under 3,000 individuals and even though it is protected in 21 tiger reserves throughout India it is still declining. There are also about 125 or 4% of the world’s tigers in and around Nepal. These are going very fast. Every single part of the big cat’s body is prized and sold to someone for top dollar. The blood, skin, bones, nose, internal organs, eyes, claws, teeth, tail and especially the penis are much sought after by Asian cultures. A single whisker alone sells for U.S. $300 and a rib bone the same. How long before they too are gone forever? Agression by humans towards tigers has escalated recently as a result of the fact known just how many specimens are left, so, it’s now a sort of free for all with poacher’s again, stealing your children’s future for their own personal gain.
There is a place in China by the name of “Tiger Mountain.” Owned and operated by the Chinese government, this facility breeds tigers for slaughter. The purpose? Tiger Bone Wine. One can even enjoy a tiger steak in the “sanctuaries” restaurant while buying tiger bone wine by the bottle or case.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, captive breeding has already saved the very beautiful Spix’s Macaw, Cyanopsitta spixii. The species is now considered completely extinct in the wild as of the year 2000. But 74 birds remain in facilities where professional and competent aviculturists are developing programs to make sure the bird’s will be around for all to appreciate. Other species such as the Seychelles Magpie-Robin, Copsychus sechellarum was reduced to just 13 birds at one time. Today numbers of this bird are up to more than 400 specimens and the species has now been downlisted. The Bali Starling, luecopsar rothchildi a beautiful silky snow white crested mynahbird with a turquoise mask and blue feet endemic to that island was down to just 12 birds known to exsist. Captive breeding by private aviculturists and zoos has saved the bird which now numbers near a thousand specimens. The California Condor, Gymnogyps californianus a huge prehistoric vulture was reduced to but a single individual remaining in the wilds of southern California in the Sespe National Wildlife Refuge before it was finally captured. The bird was added to the captive-breeding group at the Los Angles zoo where the ground work was framed for the techniques to breed the birds using hand puppets to feed and rear the offspring. Today we see well over 400 condors established at several satellite locations around the U.S.A. including the Grand Canyon that was former original habitat. The Kakapo, Strigops habroptilus a large near flightless ground parrot endemic to New Zealand is making a solid comeback with over a hundred examples now known and up from less than 30 birds only a few years ago. The Scarlet-chested Parakeet, Neophema splendida an endangered Australian species has been saved by private aviculturists. The Mauritius kestrel, Falco punctatus once the world’s rarest raptor was rescued by captive-breeding. It’s numbers grew from the last six individuals left on earth in 1974 to near 800 in the year 2000 and more than doubled again by 2015. Here in Costa Rica the Great Green or Buffon’s Macaw, Ara ambigua is struggling to survive in the wild and a captive breeding program has been in place for several years now with a great deal of sucess. A myriad of endangered Chinese pheasants too have made great comebacks in captivity. Of the 15 crane species worldwide, all but two are threatened with extinction and several endangered. Many have made a comeback from the brink of extinction by captive-breeding programs instituted by North American zoos.
Mammals too are making successful comebacks from the edge of extinction. One well known example is that of the Arabian Oryx. It is the smallest and rarest of the four species in the genus Oryx. At one time the species was distributed over the entire Arabian peninsula, Syria and Oman. By 1969 it was estimated that less than 200 remained in the wild. A result of automatic weapons and bored armies. By 1972 the Arabian Oryx was declared extinct in the wild. A program was launched by the World Wildlife Fund and local governments to recover the species. Much of the breeding took place at the Phoenix and Tucson zoos in the U.S.A. where conditions are similar to those of the Arabian desert. Of the founder stock one was donated by the London Zoo, one by the Sultanate of Kuwait and four were gifted to the program by the King of Saudi Arabia. Additionally, 3 wild animals were captured and added to the group before the declaration of it’s extinction in the wild. By 1976 these 9 animals which came to be known as the “world herd”, became 68 individuals. Many have been bred since and returned to protected habitat in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Oman. A species again, saved by captive-breeding.
In the last two decades there have been several well documented instances in which amphibian species have disappeared from a particular area. The most well known of these disappearances occurred in the late 1980’s in Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve right here in Costa Rica. Some 1,500 Golden Toads, or Sapo Dorado, Bufo periglenes peculiar to the area, simply vanished. The last time any were seen was in 1989 and then never to be seen again. The species is now listed as officially extinct with none held in captivity. Can a toad be beautiful? This one was, hence the name “Golden Toad.” Just think if someone had thought to bring into captivity a few pairs for propagation. We would see today this beautiful animal saved by captive-breeding for everyone to see especially the children of tomorrow. When I was a keeper in the bird department at the Houston Zoological Gardens the staff in the reptile department there brought back from the brink of extinction the critically endangered Houston Toad with many releases throughout the county. Saved once again by captive-breeding.
So where does the argument for captive breeding fit in? Somewhere bewteen our attitudes about keeping animals and birds in captivity or not to. Do we let a species dwindle and finally die out simply because some people think it’s just ” their time.” Or do we save that species because we can. A very famous quote answers that question for me. “Once extinct, another heaven and earth must pass before such a one can be again.” Many of the current extinctions now occurring are a result of spreading human activities. Captive breeding is a very practical answer to extinction and extinction is the alternative. Unfortunately, life in captivity looks better than in the wild for some species. Though Scarlet Macaws appear common here locally on the Osa, I can tell you they are common no where else in Central America. Habitat has been checker-boarded and the species fragmented from Mexico to Panama. Granted, there is no better sight than macaws in free flight and we all love that, but if not for captive-breeding macaws may not fly at all. Is this what we will have to show our children in the future, animals and birds in cages? Maybe, but I believe it’s better than just showing them what was in a book. I created that quote in 1976. I use it often.
In and out of zoos I have been working with endangered species pretty much all of my life for the conservation of species not for monetary gain or profeit because there is none. Captive animal management is truly a 24-7 commitment that requires dedication, perseverance and tenacity. The courage to accept loss of life but also realize the rewards of species preservation knowing you are part of saving a species from extinction. Informing researchers, students, politicians, governments and the general public as to the status of the world’s wildlife so that they may make informed decisions regarding it’s future. For all of the reasons and profound statistics above I am professing that keeping animals and birds in captivity is not only for their own health, protection and future well being but for ours as well.
After such an over load of information one might have the feeling of helplessness and ask, but what can I do ? Well, I am just the messenger but when the last elephant is slaughtered for jewerly, chop sticks and trinkets, the last rhinoceros destroyed for phony medicinal remedies, the last whale harpooned for dog food and cosmetics and the last tiger taken for wine, steaks and ridiculous sexual concoctions, I just do not want people to say…they did not know.

WHY CANT I WALK UP TO THE AVIARIES?

Because this a breeding program for endangered species that need work and as a result, involves a number of complex breeding & diet strategies for birds that are very sensitive to surrounding activities when they go to nest. An incubating hen can damage eggs or injure chicks if forced to respond to every disturbance while nesting. She needs to sit quietly,comfortably and tightly on her eggs or brooding chicks undisturbed for,in some cases,near 3 months.Since she is tended to only by her lifelong mate and our services she leaves the nest only to drink water & relieve herself.

  The collection may or may not nest but once a year in a 3 month period..The birds might lay eggs,they might be fertile and they might hatch…they might even fledge.The remainder of the time is spent by us maintaining,cleaning, feeding and monitoring them with no financial compensation or outcome.There is never any guarantee. If the expression,do not count your chicks before they hatch ever applied..it is here.

 Aviaries and breeding boxes are places of content,security and bonding.Pairs of birds defend them seriously and fiercely and so, are kept off exhibit.

 For these reasons we provide a number of tame young birds that are handle able to interact with the visiting public so that they may learn and experience the true beauty, sensitivity and plight of these avian gems that so desperately need work.

  To avoid criticism, we try not to take what we do too seriously, but what we do do….we do very seriously.

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