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The Pinioning of birds in captivity, acceptable or cruel?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by TARZAN, 25 Apr 2013.

  1. TARZAN

    TARZAN Well-Known Member

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    The Captive Animal Protection Society,(CAPS) has recently engaged in a campaign highlighting the pinioning of wildfowl, including flamingos in captivity in the U.K. They recently conducted a survey at The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, 83% of the visitors questioned were opposed to pinioning, 12%in favour, and 5% indifferent. Some zoos have admitted to pinioning, and some have stated that they are against it and do not pinion the birds in their collections. It would be interesting to hear the views of the members on this subject, to be honest, before reading this article it is not something I have ever gave a great deal of thought to, So I ask, is the pinioning of birds acceptable, used as a way of retaining the birds in captivity, or is it just mutilation and should be stopped as it is a cruel practice?
     
  2. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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  3. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

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    I feel sorry and quilty when I see the freshly pinioned flamingo chicks year after year at the Prague zoo. We (humans) have stolen their ability to flight, run at a higher speed, properly perform their ritualized courtship displays or easily mate for the next 60-80 years of their lives. I vote to call it a mutilation.

    I´ve seen it beeing justified by the argument pinioned birds can be kept in much larger and "better" open-top enclosures compared to (more expensive) aviaries. Then I wonder why we don´t chop off one hind leg of each newborn leopard? Most leopard enclosures are rather on the smaller side compared to tigers or lions. Can you imagine how large and naturalistic open-top enclosures could be designed for captive three-legged leopards?
     
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  4. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    It's also worth noting that Basel Zoo keeps flamingos in an open enclosure without pinioning.
     
  5. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    There are alternative ways of surgically disabling a bird's wing to prevent flight, which are not as obvious as pinioning. I don't know if these techniques were used in Basel.
    I am in favour of allowing birds to fly and I am glad that the development of relatively cheap and lightweight mesh for aviaries avoids the need for pinioning birds. Chester have just converted their crane aviary into a rearing unit for cranes and waterfowl, allowing the chicks to be reared full-winged. I am sure many other zoos have done/are doing/will do the same thing.
    But even so, if every zoo converted all its bird exhibits into aviaries overnight it would be many, many years before all the pinioned birds were replaced.

    Alan
     
  6. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Pinionng is fairly barbaric IMO. I had always accepted it as a necessary evil of keeping/exhibiting birds in captivity, without too much thought about it, until I kept some pinioned waterfowl myself. I soon came to realise what a major dimension is missing in the birds' lives, even the largely ground or water-dwelling species, if they are pinioned. They never really get over the inability to fly. This was sufficiently upsetting for me to stop keeping them.
     
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  7. dean

    dean Well-Known Member

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    It does seam Rather an old fashioned not to say cruel way of doing things and a very permanent solution too. As child I kept pigeons, to train or hant them my father shaved the flight feathers perfectly harmless, and it takes a year until the birds moult to grow back, This could be done as a partial exercise on each wing to stop them gaining height but still able to flap and move around more naturally.
    I wonder though if the next step for CAPS is the question should birds be kept in zoo's at all? it can be a slipery slope with these campaign groups.
     
  8. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Pinioning

    I have pinioned countless ducks and geese over the years, and can honestly say that I have never seen any adverse psychological effects from pinioning.
    If the operation is done at a day old, the main trauma to the duckling or gosling is that of being handled. Almost all wildfowl and many cranes moult all their primary flight feathers simultaneously, so are naturally flightless for a few weeks every year. It is true that a pinioned duck, if really frightened, will attempt to fly, but really it should never be put in that situation.
    I would agree that full-winged birds are more aesthetically pleasing. However, I do not accept that a pinioned duck, goose or flamingo necessarily has a poorer quality of life. No pinioned bird has ever been injured by flying into the aviary roof.
    One of the reasons pinioning is tolerated by our legislators for wildfowl [it is actually illegal in the UK for domestic poultry] is that pinioned birds do not escape and add to the feral populations that in some cases threaten native species.
    I would respectfully sugggest that the majority of those who are against pinioning, are arguing from a position of ignorance. To compare pinioning with cutting a leg off a mammal really does not work for me. A pinioned bird can still walk or swim normally. A three legged mammal cannot.
    Having said all this, I would never regard flight-restricted parrots or vultures as acceptable -- flying is too big a part of their lives.
    If we were compelled to keep all our birds full-winged, the large [and conservationally significant] numbers of waterfowl, cranes and flamingos in private hands would dwindle to almost nothing, due to the prohibitive cost for most people of covered aviaries.
    I reared a group of Mandarins unpinioned last year, intending to have them full-winged under aviary conditions. After one had killed himself against the aviary roof in a night fright, I wing-clipped the survivors. An attempt to leave an unpinioned Demoiselle Crane full-winged in the same enclosure resulted in him being wing-clipped after superficial injuries sustained through flying against the top netting.
    It may be that better fertility occurs in unpinioned cranes & flamingos. It is however true that countless examples of both groups are reared every year from pinioned birds, and lack of balance by copulating males is just one cause of infertlle eggs.
     
  9. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

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    A pinioned flamingo won´t ever injure itself on a roof of an aviary the same way a chained elephant won´t ever fall into a moat or attack another member of the herd. To "protect" an captive animal by restricting its basic freedom to move in a natural/physiological way is morally questionable at the best. The pinioned flamingo might injure itself during a stampede when the flock has been excited during courthip displays (it includes synchronised running of the flock at high speed) or frightened and trying to escape. Pinioned birds will still instinctivelly flap their wings to speed their run/take off and lose their balance and crash to other flamingos and fall to the ground, they never adjust. I´ve seen it many times. I´ve seen a pinioned flamingo get cought by the remains of its amputated wing in mud/branches near its nest and almost drawning. After I´ve called the keepers and they helped it, it was so covered in mud and exhausted it wasn´t able to stand on its feet. Would it happen at night, the reliable breeding female would be lost. I´ve also watched countless unsuccessfull mating attempts by pinioned males and I would describe their emotion in an anthropomorphic way as pure frustration.

    Comparing the percentage of infertile eggs in pinioned and unpinioned flamingos suggests 2/3 of pinioned males are unable to reproduce. How can any institution that even remotelly cares about genetical health of captive populations agree to this procedure, when you even don´t know which males will be the lucky 1/3 that you can use for your future breeding? How can you allow to lose so much genetical variability in just one generation? Not to mention lesser flamingos where pinioning is one of the causes of a very low reproduction rate right now. The AZA studbook keeper mentioned all their chicks are only from pairs containing an unpinioned male. The pinioned flock of lessers at Zlin produced almost 10 eggs in last 2 years but all turned to be infertile, other collections show similar results. The last hope for Andean and James´ flamingos in european zoos is not WWT, but the small breeding unpinioned flock in an aviary at Berlin zoo.

    As I´ve mentioned in some old thread, I keep tabs on the captive flamingo population in Czech and Slovak zoos, thanks to annual reports and visits. The figures show the mortality rate for adult flamingos in aviaries is 1/3 lower then for flocks kept pinioned in clasical enclosures. The number of reared chicks in aviaries is double of the chicks in open enclosures (the positive difference would be probably higher if part of the birds in aviaries wouldn´t still be old pinioned ones), even when the average breeding flock size in aviaries is slightly smaller.

    To minimalize injuries of flamingos in aviaries, it needs carefull evaluation of dangers, terain and natural behaviour. By using soft nets, maybe lowering the aviary roof, minimalizing constructions/pillars/trees inside the aviary, clever usage of vegetation along the aviary walls etc. Or you can attempt to build an exhibit in Basel´s way, where surrounding large trees and vertical nets are able to "catch" flamingos who would try to take off.

    When Dvur Kralove covered their flamingo exhibit (ca 1000 m2) with a simple aviary, the whole project and construction costs were less then 10.000 USD. In the age of elephant/ape/bear habitats costing tens of milions, why are zoos unwilling to invest a little bit into their flamingos too?
     
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  10. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Pinioning

    Jana, you know your flamingos better than I do, and make a very good case for keeping them full-winged. I had thought of the analogy with chained elephants.
    Something neither of us have mentioned is that a pinioned [or even wing-clipped] bird has lost some of its insulation -- it is likely that, however well a pinioned bird does, a full-winged one will do better, as long as adequate precautions can be taken against flight-related injuries.
     
  11. Elephas Maximus

    Elephas Maximus Well-Known Member

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    Pinioned birds have lesser exhibit & scientific value than intact ones, since they look unnatural with 1/3 of the wing missing (the visitors will definitely see them stretching wings) If such bird dies, the mount or skeleton will look unnaturall too.
    Carefully clipped feathers give the same result as pinioning, with only difference that it's not permanent, and the feathers may be left if neded. Feathers may be clipped during regular procedures such as vaccination, and this can be done neatly (for example, removing only primaries)
    Btw a closed-top aviary has the benefits of pest & predator control. It's better to spend more money than to exhibit pinioned birds.
    Here's an example of open-top enclosure with intact birds (Rostov zoo, Russia).
    The flamingoes don't have enough space to gain speed for take-off.
    Nevertheless, it's a breeding group.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. TARZAN

    TARZAN Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I think this sums it up, you never gave much thought about it until keeping birds yourself which were pinioned and therefore experienced this for yourself with birds in your own care. It is to a certain extent similar to tail docking of pedigree dogs, it was always done and hardly anybody gave a thought about it, although in the case of puppies it was mainly done for fashionable purposes, not for practical reasons, tail docking was made illegal in the U.K. a few years ago and I had my first cocker spaniel puppy in 2009 with a full tail, at first it was a bit of a culture shock, in fact I understand one respected breeder of cocker spaniels resigned in protest when the tail docking ban came into force, although I still see cocker spaniel puppies for sale with docked tails, "with a vetinary certificate", and indeed my vet tells me that she is still getting puppies bought as pets brought into her surgery , Jack Russell terriers in particular,with docked tails. Getting back to the pinioning of birds,it would appear that zoo enthusiasts are against this practice, as I am, although I was not familiar with it, I respect what others have said on here and realise that they know what they are talking about. So, on this occasion I am grateful to the Captive Animal Protection Society(C.A.P.S.) for highlighting this mutilation of birds in a captive situation, perhaps if they concentrated on justifiable campaigns like this instead of complaining about Zippos ponies and budgies they would command more respect, CAPS are interested in animal welfare?, yes I'm pleased to hear it, so am I, and it would appear so are the members on here who have commented and posted on this subject.
     
  13. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Digressing for a moment- As you are aware, the Docking ban excluded certain 'working' breeds for which it is still allowed with a vet's certificate- these are; a)Hunter/Pointer/Retriever(HPR's) breeds(German Pointer,Vizla etc)b) Spaniels and c)Terriers and d) it appears increasingly that crosses of these breeds can be done also if they are claimed to be 'working'. After the ban, initially some vets refused to dock even these breeds, it was a matter of their choice- several years on it seems commonplace to get these breeds done again if required. The vet or the breeder(or both?) simply have to sign a form saying the puppies are 'intended'(or similar wording) for 'working' homes etc though of course many are then sold or end up as pets. Whether kept as working dogs or pets, these breeds are generally very active and some of them do work in dense cover, where full tails can(occassionally) get cut or damaged- which is the practical reason these breeds are exempted from the law. And even in these breeds, or some of them, the modern trend seems nowadays to be toward a longer dock e.g. nearer to half the length of tail is left- which allows the dog better balance, self-expression and comfort/protection of its nether regions.

    Pinioning-I have never really liked it, though I accept there are many situations where it is necessary in a captive setting, but after my own experiences of watching the frustrations of pinioned waterfowl, I like it less still.
     
  14. e-lajos

    e-lajos Member

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    I think it is not a question that pinioning generally is worse for the birds than the ability of flying. But this question is not too simple. I am not sure that it is a cruel concerning the whole life history of the bird, do you know any exact research about it (behavioral problems, higher stress etc. of adult birds - except some known species which need flying ability to mate)? The alternative, catching the birds every year to cut back the feathers is also not enjoyable for them (stress, possibility of injury and also cannot fly). Keeping flying birds and trusting in their "fidelity" - in case of non-native birds it is not safe. Using barriers to prevent flying up: good idea, but it may work in not too large enclosure only, and it is also not too safe sometimes: I know flamingos which were able to fly up no far from the fence. In Rheine Zoo I saw very high "wall" which looked safe, but the area was also small enough.

    In addition many zoos have large open range for waterfowl (sometimes natural lakes), which looks like a paradise for them - but it is almost impossible to cover. Using huge fishing nets looks less expensive, but then we should almost continuosly repair them (especially where the winter is hard and there is a forest). The wire net is a permanent solution, but it is much more expensive in case of large aviary. For many smaller zoo it could be very high investment (they don't keep elephants too...). So, my question: which is better for the birds: pinioned in a huge area with lake or flying in a smaller aviary? Or giving up exhibit birds in these facilities, allowing the huge aviaries only?

    There may be other solution too to exhibit waterfowl in small zoos: keeping "handicapped" birds, which came from rescue centers.
     
  15. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Pinioning...

    Well said last poster. My preference is that the law should leave it individual bird keepers/organisation to manage their stock. We would all prefer to have unpinioned birds, but many aquatic and terrestrial species can live apparently fulfilled lives in a pinioned state, where they could not exist at all if full-winged.
     
  16. elefante

    elefante Well-Known Member

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    I've always questioned the practice of pinioning. To me it seems like mutilation. At least with wing-clipping the feathers will eventually grown back, although I'm still not a fan. I've always liked the idea of an enclosed aviary. It's too bad more zoos couldn't be like this one and exhibit vultures in a pit like this and keep their wings intact.

    http://www.zoochat.com/1018/vultures-pit-nests-area-th-back-250149/

    Have any of you ever been to this zoo?
     
  17. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Is that pit actually a meshed aviary? If so, it does look very nice.
     
  18. elefante

    elefante Well-Known Member

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    If this is the same park I saw on Ultimate Zoo (miss that show) the vultures are actually in a natural quarry. Because the trees are too big, the vultures can't get enough momentum to fly away. Visitors can just walk among the birds and the birds can fly a little bit but not enough to escape.
     
  19. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I would say this is the desired future model for many a zoo with a notable collection of larger bird species (cranes, pelicans, spoonbills, storks ...). It is mostly a question of moneys and funding though to make it a reality.

    In the past pinioning was a "necessary" evil, now I feel it is somewhat outdated and new better management techniques exist that do justice to the birds proper (see Jana's essay here on flamingoes ..).
     
  20. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

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    I think good zoos should be role models and show others how to keep wild animals in the best possible way. Deliberate mutilation of heathy birds goes, in my opinion, against it.

    Maybe it is the right time for tags/studbook keepers to conduct large surveys to identify the results of keeping and breeding of pinioned and un-pinioned birds? So that the opinions would not be based mostly on anecnotical stories.

    New cheap elastic nets make larger aviaries affordable even for small zoos. Who knows, the lower adult mortality, protection of chicks against vermin, reduced food bills etc. may even do aviaries economically profitable for zoos at the end. Maybe most zoos have just never considered, and just accepted that waterbird aviaries are a too big hassle to even think about it?