Helping Parrots


There are a number of things you can do to help protect parrots!

One of the most important things you can do is to raise awareness. Many people don’t realize the cruelty and environmental impact the parrot trade has. By educating people about these issues, demand for pet parrots can be reduced.

National Bird Day.com has a variety of educational ecards, letters and other educational materials available for download:

If you would rather hang up educational flyers in public places, the Avian Welfare Coalition has a variety of downloadable flyers you can print out and hang up:


If you would like to get out and see a bit of the world while helping parrots, volunteering might be for you! Ave Azul in Costa Rica is always looking for volunteers to help with their captive breeding and release program for endangered parrots. Volunteers help run and maintain the farm, as well as helping out with research projects.  

If you have done your research and decide you want and ready for the responsibility of keeping  parrots as  pets, you can adopt an abandoned bird from a local shelter, as many are abandoned when their care ends up being too much for their owners. A few of these shelters are The Gabriel Foundation (http://thegabrielfoundation.org/adoption/) and Phoenix Landing (http://www.phoenixlanding.org/).


Jurong Bird Park by Luc Viator, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Illegal Pet Trade

Pet Trade & Parrots

Another animal being put in danger by the current pet trade is the parrot. Parrots are becoming endangered through a combination of habitat loss and being captured to meet the demands for the international pet trade (Beisinger & Bucher, 1992).  These parrots are being captured from tropical forests in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa to meet both domestic and international demand for avian pets.


Agapornis roseicollis by Brian Taylor, licensed by  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Like the slow loris in the last post, captured parrots are exposed to inhumane conditions during transport to your local pet store. The birds are captured using mist nets, which can leave them trapped and dangling for days at a time or by a process called “liming” in which a sticky chemical is left on a branch, waiting for a bird to land and become stuck to the branch (Cronin, 2014). One study of the parrot trade in Mexico found that 75% of captive parrots died before reaching their destination (Miao, 2011). Additionally, the study found that of the 22 species of parrot the study identified, 20 were endangered, threatened or receiving special legal protection (Miao, 2011).  Even when the birds reach the United States, their ordeal isn’t over. Many of the birds will be selected for breeding to provide pet stores with parrot chicks. The conditions these birds will be kept in are dirty and cramped, with the parrots being exposed to disease and neglect (Cronin, 2014).


Image licensed under CC0 Public Domain

As is also the case with the slow loris, many people do not understand the needs of parrots before they purchase one. Parrots are social animals that live in groups and are very mobile, flying from place to place (Fitzsimmons, 2015). These conditions are not easy to replicate in the home, and thus many captive parrots experience neglect and abuse by being kept confined and isolated. Many people are also not able to provide a proper diet for a captive parrot, leading to malnutrition and its related diseases (Weston & Memon, 2009).

Wildlife Trade- crowded birds by Krotz, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

A number of laws have been introduced to try to end the illegal bird trade, but high demand for these birds has rendered these laws ineffectual. In 1992, the Wild Bird Conservation Act (https://www.fws.gov/le/USStatutes/WBCA.pdf) was introduced in the United States, placing an embargo on the import of wild-caught parrots (Miao, 2011). While this act has been found to have reduced poaching of wild birds from 50% to 20% of wild individuals, parrot populations have still been rapidly declining (Society for Conservation Biology, 2001). This decline may be due to the slow reproductive rate of parrots, making it difficult for populations to recover from poaching losses (Society for Conservation Biology, 2001).


Cited Sources

Cronin, A. M. (2014, January 27). 7 Things You Never Knew about the Exotic Bird Trade and How You Can Help. Retrieved from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/7-things-you-never-knew-about-the-exotic-bird-trade-and-how-you-can-help/

Fitzsimmons, P. (2015, January 5). Why You Should Reconsider Buying a Pet Bird This National Bird Day. Retrieved from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-you-should-reconsider-buying-a-pet-bird-this-national-bird-day/

Miao, L. (2011, July 28). The Illegal Parrot Trade. Retrieved from http://www.audubon.org/news/the-illegal-parrot-trade

Society For Conservation Biology. (2001, May 31). Pet Trade Dangers: Poaching Major Threat To Parrots. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010529234701.htm

Vallery, A. (2015, January 20). The Truth About the Exotic Bird Trade Will Make You Rethink Buying a Parrot in the Pet Shop. Retrieved from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-truth-about-the-exotic-bird-trade-will-make-you-rethink-buying-a-parrot-in-the-pet-shop/

Weston, M. K., & Memon, M. A. (2009). The illegal parrot trade in Latin America and its consequences to parrot nutrition, health and conservation. Bird Populations, 9, 76-83. Retrieved from http://www.birdpop.org/docs/journals/Volume-9/BPJ09-10_Weston_and_Memon.pdf

How to Help

Helping the slow loris

There are a lot of ways you can give the slow loris a helping hand and help end the illegal trade!

Here is a link to petition asking Facebook to add an option for reporting animal abuse in the content users share. This would allow videos of loris “tickling” to be flagged and taken down:

And here is a link to a pledge you can sign, promising not to promote “tickling” videos on social media and to educate people about how these videos are actually showing animal cruelty. They also list a number of other ways you can get involved in spreading awareness about the plight of the slow loris:

You can even symbolically “adopt” a slow loris or make a donation to promote slow loris conservation through the Little Fireface Project:

If you are very passionate about loris survival and would like to help in  more hands-on way and see a bit more of the world, maybe volunteering is for you. The Little Fireface Project accepts applications for volunteers for their field site in Java:

Illegal Pet Trade

The Plight of the Slow Loris

If you spend much time on social media, odds are pretty good that you’ve come across one of the slow loris “tickling” videos that went viral a few years ago. These videos attracted global attention to slow lorises, and not in a good way.


Tickling slow loris by wannabethesnake , posted on http://gifsoup.com/view/124301/tickling-slow-loris.html

The slow loris is a small nocturnal primate found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia (Bittel, 2013). These omnivorous primates live in family groups and travel from treetop to treetop to forage.The two biggest threats to the survival of this species is habitat loss and the pet trade (Gron, 2009). As deforestation marches on, lorises have less and less habitat to forage in and are often cut off from other lorises and suitable habitat as forests are fragmented by roads and human development. While deforestation is a huge problem for lorises, the main threat to these animals is the illegal pet trade.

loris wild

“Sri Lankan Slender Loris” by Alex Pyron is licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported


One important thing to realize is that pet slow loris shown in the tickle videos aren’t having a great time. While it may seem cute, a loris raising its arms is actually a stressed out loris preparing to defend itself. The slow loris is the world’s only venomous primate, with venom glands located near their elbows (Kallimullah et al., 2008). When they are attacked, they lick these glands and deliver a powerful, venomous bite. Lorises is the pet trade have their teeth pulled or cut out to prevent owners from experiencing this bite first hand (Bittel, 2013).

Even if the slow loris did enjoy the tickling and they did not experience having their teeth removed to prevent giving a nasty bite, a slow loris still would not be a great choice for a pet. It would be very difficult to provide appropriate care for a loris at home. The loris spends its nights wandering great distances to find the variety of foods it needs to remain healthy. Not only is this diet hard to replicate in captivity, leading to a number of health problems ranging from pneumonia to metabolic bone disease for the loris, it is also difficult to provide a loris with the space it requires to explore and forage (International Animal Rescue, n.d.; Nekaris et al., 2013). Keeping a loris in a cage and feeding it an inappropriate diet is a type of abuse. It has been estimated that 95% of the lorises that survive the transportation process and become pets will later die from improper care, malnutrition and dental infections from the removal of their teeth (McGreal, 2008).


Slow lorises have their front teeth cut or pulled before being sold as pets, a practice that often results in infection and death”. By International Animal Rescue is licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0


Even more abuse comes from the conditions the loris must face being taken from its home in the wild to the home of its new owner. Lorises are snatched from their habitats, often separated from their mothers at a young age, and housed in cramped, unsanitary conditions while awaiting transport (International Animal Rescue, n.d.). If the loris is being smuggled over international borders, they will be shoved into small, poorly ventilated containers with a number of other lorises (International Animal Rescue, n.d.). It is important to realize that up to 90% of captured lorises die during this process (Black, 2007).  While there is a growing number of dealers claiming to be selling captive bred wildlife, these claims have almost always been found to be bogus and the animals snatched from the wild (Nuwer, 2014). Additionally, owning a slow loris is against the law in countries that have signed the CITES treaty, which regulates the trafficking of wildlife (Bittel, 2013). Capturing a slow loris from the wild is also illegal in all of the 13 countries in which the loris can be found (Bittel, 2013).


To learn more about the slow loris and how you can help end this cruel trafficking, you can visit Little Fireface Project (http://www.nocturama.org/en/welcome-little-fireface-project/) or International Animal Rescue (https://www.internationalanimalrescue.org/truth-behind-slow-loris-pet-trade?currency=USD).


Cited Sources


Bittel, J. (2013, September 23). The Curse of Cute. OnEarth. Retrieved from http://archive.onearth.org/articles/2013/09/hey-youtube-rihanna-stop-promoting-the-illegal-pet-trade-loris


Black, R. (8 June 2007). “Too cute for comfort”. BBC News. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011.


Gron KJ. 2009 March 18. Primate Factsheets: Slow loris (Nycticebus) Conservation . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/slow_loris/cons&gt;. Accessed 2017 April 15.


Kalimullah, EA. Schmidt, SM. Schmidt, MJ. Lu, JJ. 2008. Beware the Pygmy Slow Loris? Clinical Toxicology 46(7): 602. http://www.eapcct.org/publicfile.php?folder=congress&file=Abstracts_Toronto.pdf.

McGreal, S. (2008). “Vet Describes the Plight of Indonesia’s Primates” (PDF). IPPL News. International Primate Protection League. 35 (1): 7–8. ISSN 1040-3027.


Nekaris KAI, Campbell N, Coggins TG, Rode EJ, Nijman V (2013)Correction: Tickled to Death: Analysing Public Perceptions of ‘Cute’ Videos of Threatened Species (Slow Lorises – Nycticebus spp.) on Web 2.0 Sites. PLOS ONE 8(8): 10.1371/annotation/7afd7924-ca2b-4b9c-ac1b-2cc656b3bf42.

Nuwer, R. (2014, October 30). The Black Market Trade for Endangered Animals Flourishes on the Web. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/2014/11/07/extinctcom-280884.html


Primate Factsheets: Slow loris (Nycticebus) Conservation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/slow_loris/cons