The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette is
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Pet Media, Inc.
11 Market Street, #549
P.O. Box 549
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Telephone: 508-419-6356
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Macaw on the Merry-Go-Round

With their talking ability, intelligence and gaudy coloration it’s often love at first sight for perspective parrot purchasers – not realizing until too late the drawbacks that they could be stuck with for up to the next 100 years.  When they DO realize, parrots are often passed from person to person becoming “merry-go-round birds”; a phrase coined by Marc Johnson of Foster Parrots.  Paul Brennan, also of Foster Parrots, offers this cautionary tale. 
 Paul shared a love of animals with his mother, who took in and rehabilitated strays and orphaned wild animals. At 14, he built a flight cage stocked with a dozen parakeets and cockatiels; but Paul wanted a large parrot; and used $1500 of inheritance money to purchase Oakley, the blue and gold macaw.
Paul read books, mostly by pet trade interests. He elaborates, “I was led to believe that taking care of her would be far easier. My future life changes were not considered, particularly the changes that accompany any person as they transition from their teens to twenties and into adulthood.”

Oakley had her own room with hanging branches and even an aquarium, and eventually a couple of other parrots for company – and finally a male macaw. But both macaws were too imprinted on humans to have too much to do with each other.  While preferable to the standard being stuffed into a cage and fed an all seed diet, still not an ideal situation for “one of earth’s most intelligent and psycho-socially dependent non-human animals… whose evolutionary history speaks of daily flight, a wide variety of food sources, social flocking interaction and 24 hour contact with a lifelong monogamous mate.”
 Fifteen years later, Oakley became less fun and more chore as Paul coped with college, dating, employment, etc.; “all of which is near impossible with a needy, demanding, loud, messy and potentially dangerous exotic animal competing for time and attention,” he explains. Although Oakley tolerated female household members,  “If I dared bring a girlfriend home she would dive bomb attack in a flash of angry, jealous blue and yellow feathers with a beak that can crack bones and tear flesh.” 
 Moreover, “Her noise factor became quite bothersome to those I shared my home with and because of her I could not move into my own place.”
Paul ruled out “rehoming” after considering the issue of overpopulation of neglected and unwanted parrots. “Selfishness and pride was precisely what was failing my parrot. And for Oakley’s sake, I had to find her a more rewarding place to live.”  More fortunate than most no longer wanted parrots, Oakley found a happy home at Foster Parrots, where Paul works and can still visit her without the most of the accompanying problems.
As a bird owner and “Pet Gazette” correspondent, this writer does not advocate a ban on parrot ownership. Sadly, many parrot species’ only hope against extinction is captivity. Nevertheless, we strongly urge anyone thinking about a parrot, especially the larger ones; to carefully consider whether they are truly prepared to make a lifelong commitment to meeting these creatures’ specialized needs.