PARROT'S BILL OF RIGHTS
By Stewart A. Metz, M.D.
1. GET TO
KNOW ABOUT PARROTS BEFORE YOU BRING ME HOME
I am not a domesticated pet like a dog or cat. I still have the spirit of the
jungle in me. I have special needs which you may find it hard to fill. Please
don't learn these too late for my well-being. And please don't acquire on of my
cousins wild from the jungle -- it will jeopardize his survival and well-being,
and that won't be a party for you either!
2. GIVE ME
THE LARGEST HOME POSSIBLE
I am use to flying through rainforests or savannas. I have given up this great
gift for your pleasure. At the very least, give me enough room to flap my wings
and exercise. And I need toys for my amusement and wood to chew-otherwise; I
might confuse your Home with the forest and its trees.
3. GIVE ME
A NUTRITIOUS DIET
I need a wide variety of fresh and nutritious foods, even if they take time to
prepare. I cannot survive on seed alone. Take time to learn what my needs
4. LET ME
HAVE A "SOCIAL LIFE"
I am a gregarious flock animal -- but I am not one of you. I need lots of
socialization to learn how to act with you, and with my siblings. I also need
to have adequate quality time with you every day-no matter what your schedule or
other needs are. I am a living, feeling creature. Above all, I need to be able
to have complete trust in you, and count on your predictability in looking after
me -- every day.
5. LET ME
I may like to drop food or even throw it, but I need meticulous cleanliness to
be healthy. My skin itches without frequent showers, the barbs of my feathers
won't seal if they become oily and, worst of all, I may become ill if my food or
water is not always sanitary.
6. I NEED
MY OWN DOCTOR
You may not understand my physiology and therefore you may not recognize it
early on when I get sick. And it may be too late when you do; because I hide my
illnesses (remember what I said about my being an animal of the jungle, where
there are lots of predators). And I need an avian vet -- a specialist (no HMOs
for me please). If you can't afford one, perhaps you shouldn't have taken me
DON'T PUNISH ME
Just as I don't always understand your peculiarities, you may not understand
mine. I don't TRY to get in trouble -- remember, a house is not the jungle. If
I do screw up, don't yell at me and never hit me. I have sensitive ears and I
may never trust you again if you strike me. Hands are sometimes scary things to
us (why in the world would you not be zygodactylous like us?). Even more
importantly, we don't learn by punishment. We are gentle creatures who only
strike back to protect ourselves; we learn through patience and love.
I know you get upset with me when I knock over my water bowl, throw food, scream
or pluck my feathers. I don't do these to annoy you-I am probably trying to
tell you something (perhaps that I am hurting, lonely, or sad.). Learn to speak
MY (body) language. Remember that I, alone of all creatures on this planet,
learn to speak yours!
9. SEE ME
AS AN INDIVIDUAL
I am a unique and feeling being...No two of us are alike. Please don't be
disappointed in me if I don't talk like you wanted, or can't do the tricks that
your friend's parrot can do. But if you pay close attention to me (and I always
empathize with you, whether you know it or not), I will show you a unique being
who will give you so much more than talking and playing...Give me a chance to
show you who I am; I think you'll find the effort worth it. And remember -- I
am not an ornament; I do not enhance ANY living room decor. And I am not a
status symbol -- if you use me as such, I might nip at your up-turned nose!
YOUR LOVE WITH ME
Above all, please remember that you are my Special Person. I put all my trust
and faith in you... We parrots are used to being monogamous (no bar-hopping for
us!). So please don't go away for long periods or give me away -- that would be
a sadness from which I may never recover. If that seems to be asking a lot,
remember -- you could have learned about my needs BEFORE bringing me home. Even
having a baby or taking a new job isn't a fair reason -- you made a commitment
to me FIRST! And if you think that you must leave me because you might die,
provide for me forever after you leave. I may live to a ripe old age but I
can't provide for myself. Remember I'm in a small cage amongst people who are
not of my blood.
You have lots of rights, but I can only assure one. And that is, if you treat
me the way I described above, I will reward you with unwavering love, humor,
knowledge, beauty, dedication and a sense of wonder and awe you haven't felt
since you were a child. When you took me home, you became my Flock Leader,
indeed, my entire universe -- for life. I would hang the moon and stars for you
if I could. We are one in Heart and Soul.
WE ARE A
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