Food is withheld from falcons, hawks and eagles, and many are also deprived of clean drinking water, a report says
Saturday 29 June 2019 13:45
Birds of prey are effectively starved to force them to obey human commands at zoos across the UK, investigators have found.
To train them to perform tricks for entertainment, food is withheld from the birds, such as falcons, hawks and eagles, which are naturally frightened of people, until their hunger outweighs their fear, a report says.
It’s claimed the tactic – together with forcing them to perform in displays – makes such zoos “a circus by any other name”.
The government is in the process of banning wild animals in circuses, with a bill currently going through parliament.
Freedom for Animals, a charity that opposes animal captivity, says avian veterinary experts believe going without food for three days may cause dehydration and kidney disease.
Depriving wild birds of food, known as “manning”, can take several days.
The group investigated 25 zoos around the UK, filming in 24 of them, finding one in three enclosures did not have clean drinking water.
Birds of prey spent an average of just 11 minutes 18 seconds flying during a public display, the investigation found.
At one zoo, a staff member told visitors how “naturally wild birds are terrified of humans” so to get one to sit on his glove, food is withheld and “then it is a matter of waiting until appetite outweighs fear”.
This “appears to be an extreme approach to training, especially when keepers have a legal obligation to provide food for animals ... we see this carried out widely across UK zoos,” the charity said.