“Pinioning is practically unquestioned”
Captive Animals’ Protection Soc.
(P.O. Box 540, Salford, MS ODS, U.K.), 2013.
Reviewed by Merritt Clifton
“In zoos and wildlife parks up and down the country, thousands of birds stand in large open enclosures, serenely surveying their surroundings…The occasional flurry of wings flapping is seen, but strangely none of the birds take flight. Are these birds simply content with their surroundings, choosing to stay conveniently within the boundaries of the zoo? Do they fly away at times and simply choose to return, safe in the knowledge they will find food in abundance and familiar flock mates? Is it a deep connection to their keepers that stops them from taking to the air? Or is it something else that holds these birds in the unnatural environment of a zoo?
“Look closely as wings are spread and you will find the answer,” Mutilated for your viewing pleasure opens.
In truth, wading birds on exhibition at zoos and wildlife parks worldwide have usually been pinioned. “The process of pinioning involves the cutting of one wing at the carpel joint, thereby removing the basis from which the primary feathers grow. This makes the bird permanently incapable of flight,” Mutilated for your viewing pleasure explains on page two.
Pinioning, according to this description, is procedurally similar to declawing cats. It is illegal, the Captive Animals’ Protection Society argues, if done to farmed fowl in the United Kingdom, and is illegal if done to any bird in Estonia, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Yet pinioning is practically unquestioned anywhere else.
In just six succinct pages, CAPS outlines the case against pinioning. The main counter-argument is that pinioning allows captive water birds to enjoy more freedom than would otherwise be practical for exhibition facilities, especially when exhibiting birds of species that might be considered “invasive” and be exterminated if they escaped. CAPS responds that animals, including birds, should not be kept for exhibition in the first place. Many and perhaps most animal advocates agree, but zoos are unlikely to soon give up their collections.
Meanwhile, though most activists have probably never heard of it, the practice of pinioning seems to be at least worthy of further investigation.
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