Letters


Dear Parrots magazine,

National Parrot Zoo

The National Parrot Zoo (Friskney) is licensed by East Lindsey District Council (ELDC). Under the legislation, the Zoo (NPZ) is obliged to send annual livestock inventories to ELDC. As a result of a Freedom of Information Act request to ELDC, it has been revealed that during the 12 months 2009/10, 163 deaths were recorded. This represents about 10% of the total of birds held.

 

When asked about the mortality figures, an ELDC representative reported that, according to the Zoo owner, Mr Nichols, the prolonged inclement weather contributed to the high death toll. The NPZ Blog actually refers to temperatures of -10 degrees and the owner being worried. As birds generally are not killed by excessive sun nor rain, we can assume that the birds died of cold!

 

When asked how many Post Mortems (PMs) were carried out, ELDC did not know. This is surprising considering that the minimal level of PMs was highlighted in the inspection report(carried out by ELDC in 2009). It was recommended that 25% of deaths should be investigated by PM.

As a result of concern from individuals and organisations, ELDC instigated a special report on February 17th, under Section 11 of the Zoo Licensing Act. The Vet present was Sue Thornton of the International Zoo Vet Group (IZVG), selected from a DEFRA list by ELDC.

Miss Thornton, although an obviously accomplished vet, is not even described as an avian expert by the IZVG website.

The ensuing ‘report’ is a single page, which describes the 163 deaths as acceptable and refers to various ‘discussions’ (presumably with the owner Mr Nichols). The implicit admission by Mr Nichols and ELDC, that birds died of cold, got no mention. It is ridiculous to say that standards of husbandry are acceptable when birds are dying of cold.

On February 20th, representatives of “Birds First” (experienced bird keepers) visited NPZ, and their subsequent report together with photos, describe many failings including soiled water and food containers, aviaries with ready access for wild birds and vermin, filthy aviary floors, poor nutrition, overcrowding, and importantly, no real evidence that the majority of the 1700 birds have sufficient access to heated shelters. In other words, as things stand, another harsh winter is likely to result in more deaths. It is unlikely that the establishment inspected on 17th February by ELDC deteriorated to this extent by 20th February.

A large percentage of the Zoo inmates are ex-pet birds and, according to NPZ, donors are ‘asked’ to pay £100 per bird and then a minimum of £5 per month for 12 months. In the financial year ending 2010, according to the Charities Commission website, the Parrot Zoo Trust (1062413) collection over £100,000 in donations most of which was then paid to NPZ.

Sadly, it seems that ELDC have now decided that their responsibility to these birds has been fulfilled by the ‘report’ of 17th February.

There is no visible evidence that NPZ has been told to improve the shelter capacity, no more details of PMs or any other issues such as staff training are forthcoming.

It seems evident that the legislation regarding the licensing of zoos, when added to the apparent disinterest of the local authority, is failing the inmates of this dismal establishment.

If your parrot is at NPZ, I would suggest that you pray for a mild winter.

D Woodbury - by email

 


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