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Why NO outcry?

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by adrian1963, 3 Oct 2014.

  1. adrian1963

    adrian1963 Well-Known Member

    18 Jul 2009
    As someone who is interested in ornithology I have noticed over the years a few concerning points with collections and the bird species they keep and where they keep them.

    Most collections have very poor aviaries for birds with many very outdated and very small with many species crammed into them, some of the so called bigger UK zoos even have so much shrubbery and foliage from tree’s that there is actually nowhere for the birds to fly or even stretch their wings.

    Imagine if that was to happen say to the herd of elephants at Twycross zoo (size of herd I mean maybe say 15 females and 2 males) out door area that had been halved due to a new exhibit the outcry would be so bad it wouldn’t stop for years but because it’s birds that are living in poor conditions then nothing said.

    Why don’t collections upgrade their aviaries or even keep species that would be more appropriate in the aviaries they have, the variety of species around the UK for bird lovers is diminishing at an alarming rate as most collections now seem to keep the basically same species with only a few Bird collections actually keeping rarities.

    Some indoor exhibits look great but why are they left unmanned when the public are allowed in them and when you actually approach members of staff they don’t seem bothered but if it was a Lemur walkthrough then they would have lots to say.

    Some zoos keep species that are no longer rare in the UK at the expense of UK species that are in danger of disappearing for good why, Little Egret being one species this bird has been on an unstoppable breeding success in the UK for over 5 years now and is even more common than most UK wader species and yet collections keep stocking this species and even claim it’s rare.

    The Great white egret on the other hand is a rare species within the UK and would quite easily fit in with any Flamingo collection with no problems (like wild grey herons do when it comes to feeding time).

    I have highlighted these species but there are many others that need help and yet we see no action from UK zoos to help the UK bird populations, why don’t the bigger collections have a UK endangered area (not just birds but mammals, reptiles and insects) or isn’t that money grabbing enough for the collections to bother with these days zoos are for conservation allegedly as they say not about grabbing every last little penny out of the public they can or are they just lying to make it sound good to keep animals enclosed in an area that is nothing like the area they live in the wild?
  2. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

    30 Sep 2014
    Purely answering from an observational view I think probably 90% of zoo goers are just looking for the bigger/well known species and zoos have to accomodate that as they are the vast amount of the paying public.And I'm sure a lion for instance supplements many zoos having birds on display.
    I agree i think alot of bird exhibits could be improved London Zoo has one and I don't mean the Snowdon and sorry for my ignorance I cant remember what is kept in there.Woburn has a walkthrough Lorikeet display with a keeper outside you are encouraged to buy a little pot of honey/nectar to interact with the birds. The keeper had to come in as some people are just bloody stupid.
    I suppose walk throughs are the answer as I cant see any other way of displaying them with ease.
    just a few random thoughts
  3. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

    8 Sep 2007
    South Devon
    I have sympathy with many of adrian's comments, but I see some things slightly differently.
    There are a few projects involving captive breeding (or rearing) of native species - including corncrakes at Whipsnade, cirl buntings at Paignton and choughs in one or two places, plus the reintroduction projects for cranes and great bustards supported by Slimbridge, Pensthorpe and Birdworld. I agree that more could be done in the future, but virtually all of this type of work has to be done off-show.
    On the other hand, I don't agree about walkthrough enclosures - I think that lemur walkthroughs are staffed to protect the public from the lemurs, rather than the other way round. I can't recall ever seeing anyone harassing a bird in a walkthrough aviary, although of course I cannot say that it never happens.
    Like adrian I am concerned about the number of bird species on show. In part this is due to the restrictions on importing birds, but I think that increased concern for breeding encourages separating pairs and/or taking them off-show, which inevitably restricts the range of birds on-show. But my visit this week to Newquay reminded me how many attractive species of birds we don't often see now in British zoos: I can think of quite a few mixed exhibits of African birds with some combination of spreo starlings, turaco, hammerkop, ibis, small hornbills, small ducks and weaver birds etc, but the small aviary for waxbills, Namaqua doves and white-eyes really jogged my memory of watching these species when I lived in Africa.
    I have said to one or two of ZooChat regulars who I have met at Chester that I really miss the old Oakfield avairies; one of which was a long, narrow flight which held a range of these small species and it was always rewarding to spend a few minutes watching these little birds. I would love to see this sort of exhibit recreated beside the Tsavo aviary with an appropriate range of waxbills, mannikins and small doves - it would increase the authenticity of the immersion experience. Other zoos could do likewise with other species: I have just checked Zootierliste and only 5 British collections have Gouldian finches, none of them are major zoos, but which bird species is more likely to make visitors gasp at its beauty than a Gouldian finch?

    Last edited: 3 Oct 2014
  4. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

    15 Oct 2010
    Dorset, UK
    Newquay of course has a very attractive mixed exhibit for Bearded Reedlings and Natterjack Toads, where the former species has bred well this year. Jersey makes a big thing of its Choughs as a flagship species. Great Egrets might be OK in a covered Flamingo exhibit, but not an open topped one.
  5. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    19 Dec 2007
    Everywhere at once
    Hi Adrian,

    I cannot comment on aviary size in general, please name specific zoos and aviaries which are too small and too overgrown.

    I agree that birds are relatively neglected in zoos.
    Some of your specific concerns:
    - I agree that aviaries should allow birds to fly. Too dense vegetation should be pruned, even if it looks 'natural'. This is perhaps a question directly to the zoo, which needs to send staff with a cutter to specific aviaries.
    - Yes, variety of bird species is falling. Many zoochatters agree it is bad. This is due to ban of import of wild birds to EU. Zoos now must maintain self-sustaining breeding populations, so result is relatively few species which are in many zoos. Here zoos could collaborate more with private breeders, who keep more species.
    - No, I don't remember seeing people disturbing birds in walk-through exhibit. This may happen, but for me it is not a problem which would require keepers guarding exhibits all the time.
    - Type of exhibits is always a dilemma. Private breeders agree that birds breed better in small aviaries keeping single species pairs. Also, zoos breed most of their birds in off-show breeding areas, where they are not disturbed. Aviaries there are usually very bare, but birds tolerate it. Large multi-species aviaries are educative, but birds harass each other and breed poorly or not at all. Smaller species rarely breed. Here, zoos could take more care and avoid large nest-robbing species (like toucans or herons) in mixed species aviaries, rather than throwing in everything which lives in one geographic area.
    - Great Egret as a zoo bird in a free-flying colony (much like Edinburgh kept Night Herons for several decades) is an intriguing idea. However, you should be aware that herons are predators and hunt small birds and chicks. Edinburgh night herons eaten any ducklings in open ponds. I would not recommend keeping any herons pinioned (flightless) for welfare reasons. I am not sure that Great Egret is better education bird than Little Egret, however there are captive birds available in the Continent.
    - Why bigger zoos don't keep endangered native species? Mostly for space reasons. Also, native species really fare better in suburban zoos or nature centers, which have lots of space and native habitat can be just fenced in.

    - Yes, there is lots to be done in bird exhibits in zoos. Both in improving enclosures, inventing new types of exhibit and refining existing ones. If you have some ideas, please write.
    - I would also say that bird collections should be varied for education reason - teaching people that more obscure birds exist. I am not happy with zoos which keep only animals which visitors already know from TV and films.
  6. pinkback

    pinkback Well-Known Member

    22 Apr 2010
    London, England
    I can,t agree with some of Jurek7s comments. Expansive generalisations like "most zoos breed their birds off show". All of the considerable list of successful breedings at Newquay were in aviaries on exhibit, including the tropical house. This is a great credit to their bird keepers careful management. The aviaries are pruned in the spring but it is not possible to crash around hacking back plants during the breeding season. You can,t have your cake and eat it.
  7. IanRRobinson

    IanRRobinson Well-Known Member

    2 Dec 2010
    Having just found this thread, I wonder if Paignton keep any Cirl Buntings on display? The cock is a beautiful little bird, and in terms of aesthetics alone worth displaying.

    As ambassadors for their species, and creating pressure for more sympathetic farming methods in lowland England, an aviary or two of Emberiza cirlus is surely a worthwhile venture.
  8. adrian1963

    adrian1963 Well-Known Member

    18 Jul 2009
    To many collections overlook the UK species as they think most people would be bored with them or have no interest in them.
    I have found on my travels around the UK birding and visiting collections public and private that there is a void in the market education wise that is.
    Most school children only see birds in books and haven't got a clue what a Kestrel or even a wren look like let alone the rarer species on our shores.
    Surely collections could provide a small few aviaries to show the UK public what there is out in the wild and help save our rarer birds from extinction.
    Even the best known British bird is now classed as endangered throughout most of the UK and that being the Robin it is estimated that it could be extinct in less than 20 years over 95% of the UK.
    The same fate as befallen the Tree Sparrow now very rarely seen in most parts of the UK and yet no sign of any help from the UK captive collections to save these beautiful birds why!