Parrots Forever
   Home      THE CHOICES "WE" MAKE.


Parrots And People, A Question Of Choice
Individuals in our society have every right to choose how they live their life. They can choose what they need in life to make it happy and meaningful. They have choices in the costs they are willing to bear to exercise their freedom, whether those costs are financial, emotional, or both. They can choose how much risk they are willing to take. Adults, in most cases, have control over their environment. They choose who they want to spend time with, whether it be family, friends, or partners. They choose where they want to spend time, and how much time to spend on various activities. Whether or not they feel they are in control of their life, whatever the consequences of the choices made, individuals are free to make choices.
Animals owned by people, domesticated and undomesticated alike, do not have choice. They cannot choose who is going to own them or for what reasons. They cannot choose where they will live or for how long they will live there, what activities they participate in, what they will eat or when they will eat, where they will sleep, when to sleep, when to wake. They cannot choose to leave a bad, abusive situation or to stay in a good, loving home. All the decisions in their life are made by their owners, made from the owner's perspective, and made for the owner's convenience. They are our property. If they do not meet our expectations, they are sold and replaced.
This absolute subjugation is harder on companion parrots than any other companion pet we choose to own. They are the ones who bear the brunt of our decisions and who are forced to live counter to their telos. The impact of our decision affects them daily, from the day someone decides to bring a parrot into their home to the day the parrot dies. A parrot may live up to 80 years and go through as many as 9 different homes before it dies. And every day of its life, it suffers the consequences of human choice.
Parrots, like all other animals, feel physical, emotional, and psychological pain. Companion parrots experience anxiety, loneliness, boredom, wanting, hormonal, and desire issues. Parrots cannot be spayed or neutered to relieve some of their natural urges. Parrots cannot choose not to feel these things just because they are inconvenient to people. Parrots have no choice in the environment in which they are forced to live and have no choice but to respond to that environment according to their nature. These responses may not be what people want or expect, but they are all the parrot has. A parrot has to be a parrot and when this is not allowed, the parrot has no choice but to break psychologically and emotionally.
This does not have to happen. It all comes down to a question of choice!

"The most fundamental moral question is this: What entitles us to use animals for human benefit in invasive research that causes them pain, fear, distress, loneliness. injury, boredom, and so on?" Bernard Rollin; Putting the Horse before Descartes: My Life's Work on Behalf of Animals

For People Out There Who Don't Believe or Choose Not To Believe that Animals Feel Pain, This is For You!

From the time we first become self aware as children, we question why the world is the way it is. As we grow up, most of us look to our caregivers and our leaders to give us answers to this question. Why?
From a very early age, children adjust their feelings about what they observe to comply with what society says they should feel about those things. Children are told that what they feel is wrong, that they don't understand, and that what they are told is the truth. Children grow up adjusting to the world around them, and reconciling their view of the world with what they are told the world actually is.
As we grow older and wiser, we stop questioning and just accept the views of the world around us. These views are acceptable and normal. We do not even pause to ask ourselves if they are moral.
Why do we have companion animals as pets? Because we can? There are a lot of things we do just because we can. But it seems that we have lost touch with the reasons we are attracted to animals and the reasons why we want to be with them in the first place. Why are they so important to us that we want their company and to keep them as pets? The pet trade certainly understands this connection, and successfully exploits it to great profit. Pet buyers often succumb to the pull on their emotions that an animal elicits, and do not consider that they don't have the time, knowledge, or commitment to properly care for that animal.
It is up to us to understand the true reasons behind why we want something. We need to question ourselves. Why do we want to bring a living creature into our home and share our life? What do we hope to get from this dependent being, what void in our life are we expecting it to fill? What commitment must we make to the animal in return? What are the costs, to ourselves and the animal, of initiating this relationship?
Deep questions, but ones that need to be asked and answered honestly. An animal's life and happiness are at stake. Once you can honestly answer this question, then you will know why. And when you know why, you will remember. It's because animals feel.
As "Plato said that when dealing with ethics and adults, one must not teach, one must remind. In other words, one must show them that what one is trying to get them to do is implicit in what they already believe, only they don't yet realize it. [...] the public must be made to realize that "they" is "us", that often our treatment of companion animals is as egregious, shocking, immoral, and unacceptable-indeed more so- than any other animal use in society." Bernard Rollin; Animal Rights & Human Morality

Bernard E. Rollin is an American philosopher, currently professor of philosophy, animal sciences, and biomedical sciences at Colorado State University

Professor Rollin specializes in animal rights and the philosophy of consciousness, and is the author of a number of influential books in the field, including Animal Rights and Human Morality (1981), The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain and Scientific Change (1988), Farm Animal Welfare (1995), Science and Ethics (2006). He is also co-editor of the two-volume, The Experimental Animal in Biomedical Research (1989 and 1995). He published his memoir in 2011, Putting the Horse Before Descartes.

This section is a cumulation of Bernard E. Rollin's works from many of his books and lectures. Within some of these quotes, is empirical evidence of the fact the animals feel pain. Animals feel physical, emotional and psychological pain.

"[...] the denial of the reality (or the scientific knowability) of pain in animals provided yet another vector for ignoring ethics, since ethical concern is so closely yet linked to recognizing mental states.""Putting the Horse before Descartes: My Life's Work on Behalf of Animals"

"Laziness, ignorance, habit and ideological disregard of animal suffering and of questionable morality of animal use all combined to assure that animals did not receive the best treatment [...]" "Animal Rights and Human Morality"

""Negative Mattering" means all actions or events that harm animals from frightening them to removing the young unnaturally (early), to keep it from being unable to move and or socialize."  ""Positive Mattering" would of coures encompass all states that are positive with the animal; freedom of movement, pleasure a sense of security and so on.[...] If our analyses is correct, it is morally obligatory to expand to scope in veterinarian medicine and more animal welfare science to study all the ways that things can matter negatively to animals.  And how to alleviate them. In addition it is necessary to understand which forms of negative mattering that are most problematic from the animals perspective?" Video Lecture

"For example; Ron Kilgore who is a New Zealand ethologist showed that if you measured the stress hormones in cattle. Exposure to new conspecifics, causes a far more significant stress reaction for longer periods of time then does electric shock." Video Lecture

"Also necessary to study is the way in which quality of negative experiences the animal's cognitive and mental state modulate to the degree to which the animal experiences the event in question, as negative." Video Lecture

"Virtually no one denies that animal mentation is far less sophisticated than human-indeed, various versions of the Cartessian clam that animals are machines are still flourishing today.  But the consensus seems to have emerged that animals do experience morally relevant states of awareness such as pain, pleasure, fear, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and so on." "An Introduction to Veterinary Medical Ethics: Theory and Cases"

"Philosophically, it follows from what we have argued throughout this book that one cannot rationally own an animal the way one owns a wheelbarrow, if ownership means that one can do with one's property whatever one sees fit to do. In short, acquiring an animal is morally more like buying a wheelbarrow. If this is the case, society certainly has the right to demand from the person who acquires the animal, as from a person who adopts the child, proof of one's fitness to do so." "Animal Rights & Human Morality"

"Stress-related or stress-induced behaviours include cannibalism and feather-pecking in chickens, tail-biting and cannibalism in pegs, homosexual behaviour in cattle, cribbing and weaving in horses, and stereotypical pacing in zoo animals such as caged tigers." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"One needs to know some people quite well to become aware that extreme quiet, rather than voluble outcry, is a sign of pain in that person. (In the same way, excessive cheerfulness can be a sign of depression in certain people.) All of which leads to an inevitable result: namely, that to be morally responsive to pain in animals, one must ideally know animals in their individuality." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"[..] While most of the work published in the area is primarily physiological and only secondarily behavioural, it seems evident that no sense can be made of the notion without implicit or tacit reference to the animal's state of mind or awareness-that is to what the animal is experiencing.
   The term "stress" is, in fact, used in at least three distinct ways in the literature. Sometimes it is applied to an environment situation: in this sense, scientists talk of cold stress, heat stresses, noise stresses, and so on. Sometimes it is applied to the psychological state of the animal or person subjected to a noxious stimulus, as in the talk of emotional stress or separation or isolation stress.  And sometimes it refers to the effect of noxious situations on the physiology of the person or animal. In the latter use, stress is most often dealt with physiologically in terms of what Hans Selye, in his pioneering work begun some fifty years ago, called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).  Selye's work distinguished between the physiological effects of short-term and long-term noxious stimuli. In the short-term case, what occurs is activation of the sympathico-adrenal axis-that is, the mechanisms mediated by the nerve hormones called catecholamines, namely, epinephrine and norepinephrine. This is what is commonly called the "fight or flight reaction", which is evoked by perceived threats or dangers of short duration, as when someone jumps out at you and yells "Boo", or when a cat is suddenly confronted by a dog. This aspect of stress was first described by Cannon.  With resect to longterm stress situations-for example, crowding or exposure to cold or to heat-Selye talked primarily in terms of the activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis-yhat is, the interrelationships between the pituitary hormone ACTH (Adreno-cortivo-tropic-hormone) and the adrenal hormones called gluco-corticoids, steroids released by the adrenal cortex. Prolonged exposure to stresses resulting in longterm activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis can have incalculably damaging affects on the body and its heath. Furthermore, a variety of other bodily systems are affected profoundly and directly by prolonged stressful conditions, as the emphasis on the pituitary-adrenal axis being merely a historical accident.  There is virtually no aspect of an organism which cannot be deleteriously affected, directly or indirectly, by prolonged stress. Cardiovascular health, blood pressure, shock response, susceptibility to infection, susceptibility to cancer, reproductive ability, gastro-inteninal activity, ulcers, post-surgical or other wound recovery, headache, migraine, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, ability to tolerate toxic and mental disease, behavioural pathologies, kidney disease alcohol and drug abuse in humans (and in experimental animals) can all be affected, induced and exacerbated by long-term stress. And a great deal of research has been done on unearthing some of the physiological mechanisms by which this occurs.
   Ironically, there is conclusive evidence that failure to control stress variables and their effects can wreak havoc with animal research results. Isaac has shown that virtually any stimulus can be a source of stress to the laboratory rat. Known sources of stress which can profoundly skew all sorts of metabolic and physiological variables and thereby jeopardize research results. are heat, cold, noise, crowding, isolation, light, darkness, change in temperature or air quality, infection, restraint, trauma, fear, surprise, disease, and behaviour of the investigator or laboratory technician towards the animal. Relatively few researchers are even aware of these facts; even fewer control them." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"If something as apparently trivial as moving a cage can cause such profound effects, then it goes without saying that innumerable other intrusions on animals' natures can have similar consequences." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

[..]"Reciprocally, as concern for animal treatment continues to mount, more and more questions about animal awareness will be raised - for example, questions about boredom, loneliness, fear, happiness, ect, modalities that go beyond the more obvious aspects of pain and suffering currently being looked at." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"Anesthetics and analgesics control what appears to be pain in all vertebrates and some invertebrates; and, perhaps most dramatically, the biological feed mechanisms for controlling pain seem to be remarkably similar in all vertebrates, involving serotonin, endorphins and enkephalins, and substance P. (Endorphins have been found even in earthworms.)  The very existence of endogenous opiates in animals is powerful evidence that they feel pain. Animals would hardly have neurochemicals and pain-inhibiting systems identical to ours and would hardly show the same diminution of pain signs as we do if the experiential pain was not being controlled by these mechanisms in the same way that ours is." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"Denial of pain consciousness in animals is incompatible not only with neurophysiology, but with what can be extrapolated from evolutionary theory as well. [..] Human pain machinery is virtually the same as that in animals, and we know from experience with humans that the ability to feel pain is essential to survival; that people with a congenital or acquired inability to feel pain or with afflictions such as Hansen's disease (leprosy), which affects the ability to feel pain, are unlikely to do well or even survive without extraordinary, heroic attention.  The same is true of animals, of course-witness the recent case of Taub's deafferented monkeys (monkeys in which the sensory nerves serving the limbs have been severed) who mutilated themselves horribly in the absence of the ability to feel. Feeling pain and the motivational influence of felling it are essential to the survival of the system, and to suggest that the system is purely mechanical in animals but not in man is therefore highly implausible." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"Outside positivistic-behaviouristic ideology, there seems little reason to deny pain (or fear, anxiety, boredom-in short, all rudimentary forms of mentation) to animals on either factual or conceptual grounds." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"[..] And since to even begin to have science, we must accept other people's mental states (perceptions) without being able to experience and observe them, why not those of animals?" "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"[...] one can in principle assess the genetic similarity of the wild to the domestic. If they are close, yet the living conditions are significantly different for the domestic animal, then one may have a prima-facie reason to believe that the animals' telos is being violated - that a square peg is being forced into a round hole - and that it is not living as it evolved to do." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"The term "suffering" implies a particular type of mental experience, a subjective consciousness, and that is what the Brambell committee was trying to take account of when they referred to "mental well-being" and "feelings of animals"." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

[..]"Some farmers (not labouring under the common sense of science) have ascertained that providing confined pigs with toys such as hanging chains and bowling ball cuts down significantly on what the common sense of science called "vices": tail-biting, bar-biting, vacuum-chewing, and so on, which the farmers saw as plainly a result of keeping fairly intelligent animals in a sterile environment, in which they did these things as a form of stimulation." "The Unheeded Cry Animal Consciousness Animal Pain and Science"

"It is evident that an animals cannot weigh being treated for cancer against the suffering that it entails. Cannot affirm with desire or even conceive of desire to incur during suffering for the sake of future life. Cannot understand that current suffering and maybe counter balanced, cannot choice to lose a limb to preclude mantissas... To treat animals with respect morally, we need to consider their mentational limits. And that means their extreme unlikelihood that they can understand the concept of life and death in themselves rather than the pains and pleasures associated of life or death. To the animal in a real sense, there is only quality of life. That is experiential content is pleasant or unpleasant in all the modes it is capable of; whether their board, or occupied, fearful or not fearful, lonely or enjoying companionship, hungry thirsty... We have no reason to believe animals can grasp the notion of extended life, let alone do a trade off with current suffering. This in turn entails that we realistically asses what they are experiencing. So when we're confronted with life threatening illnisses that does effect our animals. It is not axiomatic that they be treated in whatever qualitative experiential cost that may entail. The owner may consider the suffering a small price for extra life, but the animal nether values it nor comprehends it. A very important corollary emerges from this discussion. We've argued that animals have no concept of death or life and consequently it cannot value that more than pain. We also indicated that people sometime value death over pain. As a way of ending it. If this is true of humans, it would be anthropomorphic true of animals who cannot value life at all. In these sense, pain may well be worse for animals than for humans. The standard line is among pain theorists say that human pain is much worse because you can worry about it, you can anticipate it. The same logic however decrees that a animal cannot look forward to a time without pain. Their universe is pain. Their horizon of cognizance is pain. And so they don't have hope. Humans can anticipate an end time to their misery.  Animals can't." Video Lecture

Every living being has the right to live the way they were meant to live according their telos.  

We don't need to poach wild parrots, or to breed and keep captive parrots to ensure our survival. The ONLY reason we do any of these things is for our own amusement. And this is amoral!

For the sake of all the tens of millions of captive companion parrots in North America right now and all the tens of millions of captive companion parrots still to come into the pet trade through poaching and captive breeding, we as a society must be made aware of what is happening and the magnitude of the problem. Right or wrong, companion parrots are a commodity and the pet trade is market driven. There would be no incentive to produce more pet parrots if there was no market for them. These parrots are not bred to ensure species survival, the are bred to be sold as pets. They are bred for profit. 

Captive companion parrots owe us nothing. We, on the other hand, owe it to them to do everything in our power to make their lives, FOR THEM, worth living.

© Parrots Forever