On May 2016, OIPA Cameroon visited the MVOG-BETSI ZOO-BOTANICAL GARDEN, situated in the capital city of Yaoundé.
There is a wide range of species at the zoo, including big cats, reptiles and primates. Anyway it is possible to underline more specifically the horrific conditions in which over 2.000.000 birds are held: wild birds demonstrate high intelligence and mostly a strong need for social interaction. In nature, the surrounding environment is a constant means to exercise their physical and mental abilities, while in these “botanical gardens” they are held only for their magnificence and their wonderful colours, in order to be admired.
Essentially, the typical physical and mental activity of birds in cages is limited by the static quality of the size of the cages: they live as prisoners, without committing any crime.
The differences between their natural lifestyle and the one in the cage is patently evident: in the wild, these beautiful beings are social animals, and if separated, even for just a moment, they start calling their flock mates. Flock-oriented, they preen each other, fly together, play, and share egg-incubation duties. Many species of birds choose a partner which will remain the same for the rest of their life and, romantically, will not take a second mate if their first is lost.
Moreover, a life in captivity is often a death sentence for birds, who may suffer from malnutrition, an improper environment, loneliness, and the stress of confinement.
Birds are meant to fly and be with others of their own kind in a natural environment. A female shorebird was recently found to have flown 7,145 miles (11,500 kilometres) nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand—without taking a break for food or drink. Confinement causes birds to have temper tantrums and mood swings. The New York Times has reported that many birds “go off the deep end when they are […] placed in captivity. […] The resulting frustration, Cambridge University Zoologist Dr. James Serpell said, leads to abnormalities like repetitive behaviour, in which the bird’s head weaves back and forth, or in which it shifts constantly from one foot to the other, abnormal grooming in which the bird picks out all of its feathers, and aggressive behaviour.”
Taking animals from their natural habitats endangers not only the individual, but it jeopardizes entire populations and ecosystems. The MVOG-BETSI ZOO-BOTANICAL GARDEN have sentenced many bird to a life sentence, depriving them from the natural life and the habitat they deserve.
OIPA Cameroon wrote a letter on behalf of these creatures to the director of the Garden, asking for the immediate release of these birds. Cameroon harbours very few species of wild birds: caging them is the worst idea from a conservationist point of view, because suffering from many disorders, they risk extinction in a few years to come.
OIPA Cameroon has been fighting for the right of all animals.
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