Zoo industry body forced to change mutilation policy following CAPS exposé

In March, CAPS launched its groundbreaking Fight for Flight campaign which exposed the widespread mutilation of birds in zoos across England. Pinioning involves the partial amputation of a bird’s wing in order to prevent escape from captivity. This allows zoos and wildlife parks to keep them in visually pleasing open-top enclosures which give the impression of the animals having the freedom to come and go as they choose. In fact, these permanently maimed birds will never fly.

Shortly after the launch of the campaign, a legal analysis carried out by CAPS revealed that, not only were thousands of birds being mutilated by zoos in this way, but that zoos were allowing unqualified staff to carry out the veterinary surgery of amputation. Whilst this may have saved the zoos money on expensive vets’ bills, it was illegal.

This illegal practice was apparently so ingrained within the industry that even zoo trade body, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA), stated within their formal position statement on pinioning that it was ok for laypeople to carry out the surgery.

Petition urgent copyBIAZA have repeatedly stated in the past that their members are not only expected to meet legal standards, but exceed them. Statements such as these hold little weight when it becomes apparent that BIAZA itself has failed to understand the legal requirements imposed on its members.

And it is not just its own members that BIAZA advises on legal issues. The organisation also worked in “close collaboration” with Government-commissioned researchers in their assessment of the implementation of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 – the law which regulates BIAZA zoos. The conclusion of this research, released in 2010, was that the current law did not require amendment and zoos were improving with regards to compliance. However, independent research carried out by CAPS and other organisations just over a year later found that there were serious problems with the implementation of the same Act and an almost complete absence of enforcement action being taken against failing zoos.

In recent days, CAPS has been provided with the new version of the BIAZA flight restraint document which now interprets the law correctly as a direct result of CAPS’ work.

Said CAPS Director, Liz Tyson:

“This campaign does not seek to have birds’ wings amputated legally, but seeks to put an end to this barbaric treatment of sentient animals altogether.  What is concerning is that, if it had not been for our work, the BIAZA policy would have continued to advise its members to act illegally. Given that BIAZA have been charged in the past with supporting Government in its research into the application of legislation governing its own members, we have repeated our call for the organisation’s advisory role to be reassessed”.

CAPS will be meeting with Government officials next week to discuss the campaign and is asking supporters to sign and share the petition against the practice.

Ms Tyson added:

“It is vital that we show officials that the public are opposed to this cruel practice. By signing the petition today, you are helping to ensure that future generations of birds keep their wings”.

Sign the petition now at www.captiveanimals.org/bird-petition

Join the ‘Fight for Flight’ campaign today to end this cruelty!

rotated FFFJoin CAPS in campaigning to see the cruel practice of pinioning – the mutilation of birds to keep them in captivity – banned in the UK.


Below are just some of the ways you can help. Please don’t delay – join us in the Fight for Flight!


SIGN the petition

READ the full report

WRITE to your MP to ask that they support the call to ban pinioning
Click the link and enter your postcode to find out who your MP is. Write to them to ask them to support this important campaign.

DONATE to the campaign today!Beangoose copy
Your donation today will help us to campaign at local and national levels to put an end to this cruelty.

CONTACT zoos to find out if they pinion birds
Pinioning is widespread but rarely talked about by the zoo industry. Get in touch with your local zoo to find out if they pinion birds. Ask them how many birds are subjected to this practice and let us know what you find out. Zoos for which we lack information can be found here.

BOYCOTT nature reserves, parks or other outdoor centres that hold captive wildlife
Some zoos promote themselves as nature reserves or other types of outdoor centre. If you are unsure whether a reserve or centre that you would like to visit holds captive animals, call ahead and find out. Let them know why you won’t be visiting if they do hold captive wildlife.

GET INVOLVED in peaceful demonstrations
Got a zoo near you? Get in touch with us to receive free campaigning literature to use on information stalls or demonstrations. We can help you organise your demo – just let us know if you need advice or help.



Web Design, Web Development, Graphic Design by Papertank