(Source: The Sunday Times, March 11, 2012)
Free range birds
Now in Singapore, other than the normal pets like cats and dogs, more Singaporeans are adopting other kinds of pets like parrot. In fact, recently on The Sunday Times (March 11, 2012), an animal lovers group called the Singapore Domestic Flying Parrots (SDFP) group was featured. Visit http://www.sdfp.org/index.html for more information about this group. SDFP members gather at Downtown East every weekend to train their parrots to fly unclipped. This weekly training session is an example of human-animal interaction.
Importance of this practice
The weekend trainings provide opportunities for fellow owners to exchange and share tips and pointers on parrot rearing. Owners may be more educated on the types of human impact on parrots and even other birds. The new knowledge may lead to behavioural changes like refraining from release of birds during Vesak Day as young untrained birds has lower chance of surviving in the wild.
Both the parrots and owners may enjoy a mutualistic relationship as both may benefit from each other’s accompany. While the parrots benefit from the trainings and food provided by the owners, the trainings also provide owners with more opportunities for socialisation and interaction with fellow parrot owners. As such, owners can benefit from long term emotional well-being.
However, such animal groups also have their fair share of critiques. Some may criticise that unclipping the parrots may lead to escape which increases their chance to catch viruses and bacteria from other wild birds. This could then result in zoonosis when the animals spread their diseases to humans, like the case of SARS. Lastly, there might also be critique that there could be animal trading within the group.
No doubt that there are reports of diabolical acts like animal trading within such animal groups, but we also cannot deny the benefits such groups can bring to the animals, owners, and most importantly towards the animal conservation efforts.