A YouTube video of an Eclectus Parrot clinging to the windshield wiper of a speeding car has recently enraged people around the world. Thousands followed the story on Facebook, petitioned the Victoria (Australia) Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to seize the bird, and called for the arrest (and worse!) of the owner. But the story developed new wrinkles, and it continues to grow stranger as time goes on…
Sir, why are you doing that?!
Angus’ owner claims that he drove around with his wing-clipped pet clinging to the windshield in order to give the bird the “experience of flight”. When interviewed, he seemed genuinely shocked by the public outcry against his action, which he filmed and posted on YouTube’s website.
In his experience, birds that were afraid of a situation tried to fly away (he had previously owned a cockatoo). Since Angus stayed put, the owner assumed he was not stressed. However, some birds, Eclectus Parrots and Bobwhite Quail among them, freeze for a time when threatened.
Accusations and Threats of Violence
The plot thickened when the accusation was made that Angus had been stolen from his rightful owner, or had been found by the now infamous new owner after escaping from his prior home. This turned out not to be true (the bird was micro-chipped), but by this point the story had taken on a life of its own.
Pleas for confiscation were made to the Victoria RSPCA, but the agency did not act swiftly enough to satisfy Angus’ many supporters. Angus’ owner was threatened with violence, and subsequently dropped out of sight. Someone who had interviewed the owner was also threatened when he/she would not reveal the owner’s address.
Angus is Confiscated
In time, the Victoria RSPCA confiscated Angus. Blood and other tests have revealed him to be in good health; his cage and general environment were also found to be adequate.
However, public/government bodies must tread carefully in highly publicized situations, so as of now a formal decision as the bird’s fate has not been made. Public comments continue to flood various forms of social media – you can read these here, but please be aware that some people use very strong language.
Prolog…A Hunger Strike
In the course of my work, I’ve been involved in quite a few animal confiscations and closures of poorly-run public collections. And while a cast of odd characters usually surfaces, in most cases the responsible public authority makes a decision and that is that.
However, not so with the Angus story. In order to make known his objection to the seizure, Angus’ owner has embarked on a public hunger strike, and is reportedly engaging in some quite bizarre behavior (Hint from my experience: this is not likely to favorably influence the RSPCA!).
Animal abuse, and the airing of videos depicting abuse, is a serious problem; those involved in such activities are often guilty of criminal offenses against people as well. I’m not sure at this point if the Angus incident involves ignorance or cruelty, or both, but I hope it is soon resolved and that all involved learn something of use in the process. Please see the article linked below to learn how to report incidents of animal abuse, and what else you can do to help.
Male Eclectus image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by boazyw and Snowmanradio
Eclectus pair image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Shiny Things and Snowmanradio
Female Eclectus image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Steven Hughes and Snowmanradio