Bird mutilation? ‘Not in our name’ say visitors to Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Fight for FlightFollowing the launch of CAPS’ new Fight for Flight’ campaign to see an end to the cruel practice of pinioning birds in zoos, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) have reiterated their previous stance that they have partially amputated the wings of thousands of birds to allow their visitors to get close to them. But preliminary results from a survey of visitors to the centres show strong opposition to the cruel practice with one visitor stating:

“It kills my faith in these places which I believed were a sanctuary for birds and wildfowl”.

100 members of the public were surveyed with a view to understanding current awareness and opinions surrounding the practice of pinioning of captive birds. 50 respondents had visited WWT centres previously and 50 people had never visited a centre.

83% of all respondents were opposed to the practice of pinioning with just 12% in favour. 5% of respondents were neither in favour or opposed.

Of the 50 people that had visited WWT centre, a huge 78% of people had no idea that the birds that they were watching had been mutilated to hold them captive. 60% of people would no longer visit, or were now unsure whether they would visit again, in the knowledge that the birds had been pinioned.

One respondent commented that finding out that the birds were pinioned had prompted them to cancel their membership. Another said:

We didn’t know this until we had parted with our money and gone in. Needless to say we will never go there again”.

The majority of visitors confirmed that they support the Fight for Flight campaign to see the practice of pinioned abolished.

Whilst the WWT admit to pinioning all of their captive wildfowl and flamingos, it is not just these centres that engage in the practice. Pinioning appears to be one of the best-kept secrets in the zoo industry. Indeed, CAPS has been waiting for a response from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) as to the extent of the practice in their member zoos for almost a month. The Director of BIAZA claimed during an interview with CAPS Director, Liz Tyson, on national radio that the practice was “something that we are seeing zoos beginning to move away from” but has failed to provide any evidence to substantiate this statement since then.

Said CAPS Director, Liz:

“For now, the campaign has had a strong focus on WWT centres as, to their credit, they have at least been honest about the extent of the practice in their zoos. A number of other zoos have come back to us and told us they would never carry out pinioning, some have even put their name to our petition, but there remain far too many unanswered questions. BIAZA’s continued silence does nothing to instil confidence in those members of the public who believe that it is their right to know what is going on behind closed doors in zoos”.Washington WWT Bar headed goose pinioned

She added:

“The results released today send a clear message to WWT that, whilst they claim they do this for visitor satisfaction, guests and potential guests are turning away from them as a result. If they won’t stop this cruelty for the sake of the birds, will they put an end to it for the sake of their income?”

Of the minority of respondents that were supportive of the practice of pinioning, some commented that they believed the issue was “trivial” and others that pinioning was a “practical” way of holding birds captive.

The survey remains open as CAPS continues to gather a wide range of views on the matter to inform the ongoing campaign and can be answered here:

If you live in the North West and would like to join CAPS on a sponsored walk and bird watch to see birds flying freely whilst raising vital funds for the Fight for Flight campaign, please click here to find out more.

If you feel that pinioning should be abolished, please take a few moments to sign the urgent petition by clicking here.

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