Challenge to zoos that clip birds’ wings
(A slightly edited version of this article is in the current edition of the Big Issue in the North magazine. Please buy the magazine if you see a seller.)
Pinioning amputates the final section of the wing from which the primary feathers grow. Skin and muscle are removed in a practice that usually takes place during the first few weeks of a bird’s life.
By preventing a bird from flying then less space is needed to keep a bird captive. It also means humans can get nearer to the birds.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust’s (WWT) Martin Mere site at Burscough, Lancashire, is one of five reserves managed in England by the charity. Around 100 species of international water birds live in and around the mere, which gives the site its name. All captive wildfowl and flamingos on site are pinioned, forming one part of the 5,650 individual birds on the five reserves that are prevented from flying by the practice.
WWT has defended its practices saying in a statement: “ To help encourage our visitors feel passionate about saving the world’s wetlands and their wildlife we create opportunities for them to get close to the birds.”
One leading northern wildlife attraction, Knowsley Safari Park, does not practice pinioning on any of its birds.
Many people are not aware that birds like vultures are under threat and we aim to connect visitors with species that need human intervention to secure their future. We have purposely built aviaries to mimic the birds’ natural environment as closely as possible.”