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Don’t Miss Out! ‘Parrot Confidential’ Airs Tonight on PBS!


Parrots are truly amazing beings. They can live up to 70 or 80 years and are able to pick up different human languages easily. These characteristics and others are what makes them pets of interest to many.

The number of parrots in homes has soared over the years. In 1990, around 11.6 million parrots, cockatoos and macaws were kept as pets, increasing to 40 million in 2006 and then jumping to 60 million in 2010.

Yet parrots are not like our beloved dogs or cats – they are not domesticated animals, and even captive bred parrots still have many of the same tendencies as their wild counterparts. This can pose a number of problems for parrot owners, and the birds themselves. Unpredictable behavior and loud squawking can easily frustrate owners, sending these birds back to shelters, pet shops or sanctuaries, or worse, abandonment.

According to Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, parrots change homes at least seven times during their lifetimes, resulting in “feelings of trauma that accompany permanent separation from the people they’ve bonded with for years.”

These facts and others come to light in tonight’s screening of the documentary “Parrot Confidential” on PBS’s NATURE at 8 p.m. EST (check your local listings for other times).

The documentary features a “loveable, quirky cast of parrots [who] will reveal their unforgettable tales and the bittersweet world they share with humans,” reports PBS.

Ultimately, the film will explore the world of parrots as pets, questioning as “Blackfish” has with orcas, if this type of captivity is doing more harm than good.

Watch a quick preview of the documentary below, then be sure to catch it on PBS tonight at 8 p.m. EST!

Image source: Glen Bowman / Flickr

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One comment on “Don’t Miss Out! ‘Parrot Confidential’ Airs Tonight on PBS!”

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Sue Ferrara
4 Years Ago

For Immediate Release From: The American Federation of Aviculture The PBS Documentary Parrot Confidential Gets it Wrong: Parrots Make Great Pets Read Allison Argo’s web page titled Speaking. She is not shy about admitting she produces films to motivate change. And while she has the personal right to create such works, members of the American Federation of Aviculture wonder why PBS stations around the country would air a decidedly one-sided piece. In 1976, scholar Calvin Pryluck struggled with the ethics of documentary film-making in an article titled: Ultimately, We Are All Outsiders: The Ethics of Documentary Filmmaking.” Given the technological advances on the horizon, said Pryluck, smaller cameras, lighter equipment, and easy access to subjects, “The acrimony surrounding a controversial film may be good for the box office; it is sometimes questionable for the value for art.” People have lived with parrots and other avian companions for thousands of years. Martha Washington lived with parrots, as did President Teddy Roosevelt. Whether or not parrots are good pets has more to do with human beings than with parrots. Just as every person is not cut out to be a parent, not every person is destined to own a parrot. There are certain qualities which make good parents or good parrot owners. The documentary claims the rise of domestic parrot breeding began after the airing of the television show Barretta which ran from 1975 to 1978. That series featured a cockatoo named Fred. The increase of domestic breeding coincided with the U.S. government’s adoption of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) agreement in 1974. This global initiative -- signed by 178 countries, with Angola agreeing to join by the end of the year -- guarantees parrots will not be taken from the wild and sold. Unfortunately, parrots are still poached in some countries for the pet trade. However, U.S. domestic breeding has curtailed the importation of poached parrots to this country. Note any parrot older than forty years most likely is a wild-caught parrot and not a domestically bred parrot. And while people can debate what constitutes domestication, parrots bred and hand-raised know no other life. These parrots thrive on human companionship and could not survive in the wild. Unlike their wild counterparts, parrot companions live in warm homes, get plenty of food and don’t need to worry about predators. Domestic parrot breeders also do more than breed and sell parrots. These breeders share their unique knowledge and experiences with field biologists, zoos and other organizations monitoring parrots. Breeders are working to save endangered parrot species. The American Federation of Aviculture does its part to help people become better stewards of their companion parrots through education and outreach in various communities where members live. On the national level, AFA offers a two-part course titled The Fundamentals of Aviculture. This course helps parrot owners and potential owners understand the rich history of aviculture in the United States. The course also helps people understand the complex, personal relationships one can develop with a companion parrot. Should people be prevented from living with domestically bred parrots? Absolutely not. Should people act in responsible ways when it comes to electing to live with parrots? Absolutely. Note: The American Federation of Aviculture (AFA) is a nonprofit national organization established in 1974, whose purpose is to represent all aspects of aviculture and to educate the public about keeping and breeding birds in captivity. AFA has a membership consisting of bird breeders, pet bird owners, avian veterinarians, pet/bird store owners, bird product manufacturers, and other people interested in the future of aviculture. See: www.afabirds.org


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