Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

‘Who’s a naughty boy, then?’ asked the parrot of Coca Cola

Posted: 7 July 2006

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‘What goes around, comes around’ is the ironic title for Coca Cola’s latest TV ad featuring a performing parrot – a ring-necked parakeet – sitting on a girl’s shoulder and then flying away and returning to its perch. Animal welfare group ADI has denounced this inappropriate use of a performing wild animal, as the latest episode in their campaign to end the suffering of animals in entertainment.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of ADI, condemned Coca Cola and said: `Like most birds, parrots are easily stressed and even minor changes to a bird’s environment or routine can be enough to trigger stress and consequently lower their resistance to disease and infections[1]. Being transported to different locations for filming and being surrounded by strange people, when performing are potentially very upsetting experiences for the bird.’

She added: ‘Tame and trained parrots are usually removed from the nest after hatching and hand reared by humans, which can deprive them of vital nutrients and make them more prone to stress. But there is no reason to use live animals for filming with computer generated images so advanced that you can barely distinguish them from real animals. The sad thing is that people don’t realize what happens behind the scenes and how unnatural and lonely the lives of caged captive animals are, let out to perform on command after being trained with relentlessly repetitive regimes.”

Produced by agency Mother, the Coca Cola ad was filmed in South Africa by The Farm Film Productions from Cape Town in a film studio, and ADI was told by producer Richard Firminger that the bird was on set for twenty minutes in each one hour period. No animal health person was on set to check the parrot’s welfare as this is not required for an overseas commercial in South Africa.

Jan Creamer concluded: “Like all parrots, these are highly intelligent birds which need a lot of mental stimulation. Stereotypic and self harming behaviours are very common in captive parrots as a result of not having the right mental and/or social stimulation. We urge Coca Cola to rethink the use of performing animals in their ads and ask the public to stop drinking coke.”


Parrot Facts

Ring-necked parakeets are native to Africa and Asia [2]but have established colonies in many European cities, where they have been introduced by humans, probably as a result of escaped or released animals from private homes or bird collections. They tend to breed in large flocks, and are very social.


Its native habitat is open deciduous woodland but in Europe it tends to prefer orchards, parks and gardens [3] and feeds on seeds, berries and fruit[4].

Hand rearing is a really common method for ensuring that pet birds are docile and trainable. Not every tame parrot has been hand reared but the majority of parrot breeders use this method as people will pay more for a hand reared parrot. It is also done because if training does not begin in the first few weeks of life, it gets more difficult to tame and train it later on.

Ring-necked parakeets are often cited as being one of the less docile parrot species commonly kept as pets, they do not bond as quickly with humans as other species do [5]and therefore hand-rearing is frequently recommended.


The consequences of hand rearing are:

  • Unless expert care is taken, the young bird may miss out on vital nutrients that it would normally obtain from its parents.
  • Removal from the nest is bound to cause undue stress in both the parents and offspring, especially if a bond has already been formed.
  • Hand reared birds are imprinted on humans and therefore often lack the social skills required for them to interact with other parrots.
  • Adult parrots that have been hand reared are much more attention craving than those which have been raised naturally, they are therefore more prone to stress, boredom and showing abnormal behaviours such as feather plucking when they do not receive the attention they crave.
  • Parakeets and parrots tend not to hold territories [6] so the size of home range would be dependent on factors such as size of the colony and food availability.


They are known to travel up to 15 miles each day to reach their roosting sites and nest in holes and cavities in trees. They live in huge flocks in the wild and this kind of social environment can not be provided in captivity. For example approximately 6,000 of the birds congregate at just one of their communal roost sites in Surrey, near London.1

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[1] The Parrot Society UK http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org

[2] Wikipedia – The free Encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org

[3] http://www.birdguides.com

[4] RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) http://www.rspb.org.uk

[5] http://www.indianringneck.com

[6] Butler, C. J (2003) Population Biology of the Introduced Rose-ringed parakeet Psittacula krameri in the UK. Oxford University

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