On National Bird Day, 5 January 2005, Friends of Animals will celebrate birds' freedom to fly, wherever they are in the world.
Just to our South, the New York Companion Bird Club will be celebrating in a different manner.
Although they will be hearing about activism on behalf of Connecticut's monk parakeets during an event held at the New York Theosophical Society, bird enthusiasts will also raffle off prizes from Grey Feather Toy Creations, and listen to Robert A. Monaco, DVM, speak about "state-of-the-art medicine and surgery for avian and exotic animal companions." The raffling off of a "bird gym" will fund the transportation of a bigger cage for a nursing home-based cockatoo. But unfortunately, Grey Feather Toys sees the event as an opportunity to promote "the outstanding quality of their products" and herald themselves as "one of the leaders of the avian toy market" for Bird Club members.
Overall, the planned Bird Day event is a promotion of cages, not freedom. Because it's advertised as taking place at the New York Theosophical Society, it carries the appearance of Society's endorsement. (To date, the Society has not commented.)
On 14 January 2005, the Theosophical Society will provide the venue for Larry D.D. Clifford to speak, exhibiting a macaw. Clifford, the owner of the Exotic Parrot Breeding Aviary, trains animals for Sea World and other shows and television commercials. Clifford's trainees include cetaceans, sea lions, parrots, grizzly bears, and big cats. For a fee -- $65 for single, $85 for couples -- Clifford will show how people can correct unwanted habits in pet birds, and train birds to talk. This is an upscale yet circus-like event staged on the Society's premises. Other animals were not put on this earth to be objects of our amusement.
Due to the disturbing mix of subjects described above, we at Friends of Animals want to be clear that we do not endorse these events.
Said Friends of Animals legal director Lee Hall, "The Theosophical Society's mission is to cultivate the spiritual growth of humanity. A pioneer in its history was the acclaimed vegetarian doctor Anna Kingsford, who spoke of the inherent value of animals other than ourselves. To offer a venue for patently exploitive promotions is to flout the Society's best traditions."
We urge people everywhere to rethink the idea of owning, breeding, or trading birds in captivity. For every day is Bird Day -- a day when beings born to fly freely should enjoy that experience.
Those who agree should feel empowered to ask the New York Theosophical Society not to host promotions by Grey Feather Toy Creations (5 Jan), or the Members-Only Exotic Bird Training Workshop by Larry D.D. Clifford (14 Jan), or to invite such promotions in the future.
It is no justification that a Bird Club thought up and organized these events. They do not merit hosting in a Theosophical Society venue.
The New York Theosophical Society
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