Friday, October 25th, 2013
In a vital step forward in the CAPS Fight for Flight campaign, it can now be confirmed that most of the members of the committee which provides advice to Government on zoo policy, the Zoo Expert Committee, “encourage zoos to move away from pinioning”.
Minutes of a committee meeting carried out in May, ahead of which CAPS campaigners posed a series of questions to be raised on the subject of pinioning, have now been released to the charity. A spokesperson for CAPS said: “we welcome the recognition by Government advisors that zoos should move away from mutilation of animals. We now need to work to ensure that this happens in practice”.
The minutes of the meeting held at the end of May outline in detail how the CAPS exposé on illegal pinioning led to the zoo industry being forced to comply with legislation which had apparently been being flouted on a widespread basis for many years. CAPS’ work revealed that thousands of animals had had wings partially amputated by unqualified zoo staff when this was strictly against the law. The Director of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) admitted during the meeting that BIAZA’s own advice to its members had been incorrect. Members of the committee stated that “it was unclear how the situation had arisen that some believed that birds… could be pinioned by a non-vet”.
CAPS has been clear that the Fight for Flight campaign does not seek to have pinioning simply carried out legally, but to have it abolished altogether. However, the committee suggested that the very fact that CAPS’ work has now forced zoos to hire vets to pinion birds may, in itself, make the continued practice too expensive for zoos. It was stated that the committee recognised “concerns that if pinioning could not be carried out by lay people, zoos may need to restrict the numbers of species they keep”. As it has now been categorically confirmed by both DEFRA and the Chief Veterinary Officer that pinioning cannot be carried out by lay people, CAPS hopes to see zoos being forced to end the keeping of certain species in their collections.
Finally, the Committee recognised that “there was a lack of scientific evidence on either the immediate welfare or lifetime consequences, negative or positive, of the practice”. As such, any claims made by zoos that birds are unaffected by the cutting off of the end of their wing with scissors and no anaesthetic have no basis in evidence.
Two weeks ago, it was revealed that 29 of the self-proclaimed “best” zoos in the country continue to maim birds in this way. The industry has sought to avoid public scrutiny by closing ranks and refusing to confirm which zoos are complicit or how many birds have been affected.
In just the last few days, Chester Zoo confirmed that it has now stopped the cruel practice. This follows public pressure from CAPS supporters as the zoo was named as one which subjected birds to the procedure.
CAPS Director, Liz Tyson, said:
“The document released is a major blow to members of the zoo industry which continue to carry out this barbaric procedure which denies birds flight for their whole lives. We sincerely hope the fact that advisors at the highest level have shown support for an end to pinioning will make Government, and the zoo industry, listen and act. If we can get the practice abolished, it is highly likely that we will see an end to the holding of some species of birds captive in zoos in the UK. If we can achieve freedom to fly, and freedom from a lifetime in captivity, for at least some birds, this campaign will have been a huge success”.
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
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.