Birds=Animals (Just Don't Ask the Animal Research Industry)
Every May 4th is Bird Day, established in 1894 to promote our view of birds as beings of “moral interest”. It, thereby, represents a worthy cause not yet realized, as, today, we find ourselves still fighting for birds to be recognized as sentient life forms.
Almost 130 years after the first Bird Day, the US government and animal research industry still do not consider all birds to be “animals”.
It’s 2023, and birds bred for research, teaching, testing, or experimentation are not yet included in the definition of “animal” under the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”). (And, they’re not the only ones.) This means that their use is neither regulated nor reported. That anything can be done to them and for any – or no – reason. And that we have no way of knowing even how many of these sentient beings suffer and die at the hands of researchers each year.
The government reconsidered the proposition that birds = animals in 2002 but just couldn’t get there. So, instead, it decided that only birds not bred for research are animals under the AWA.
Per our elected officials, then, a bird is an “animal” only if not earmarked from birth as a tool for human experimentation, and, in this case alone, the USDA should establish some regulations about his/her care at the hands of researchers.
But, just like the government not wanting to understand the definition of “animal”, it clearly does not want to understand the definition of “welfare”: to the USDA, animal “welfare” is nothing more than keeping animals physically alive until a human decides to kill them.
Earlier this year – and more than 20 years after they were expected – the USDA released regulatory standards applicable to birds not bred for research (you know, the birds who are “animals”, as opposed to the birds who are not “animals”…).
Tragically, it would seem to have taken the USDA over 20 years to decide that *some* birds should not be held captive in cages too physically small for them; that the humans who hold these animals captive should clean their cages enough to prevent “excessive” waste accumulation; and that the food these birds are given should be species-appropriate and the water potable.
As such, the released regulations do little more than tell researchers to try and keep some birds from falling victim to unintended diseases, physical injuries, and death while they’re waiting to have diseases, injuries, and death induced in them by humans. Nothing more.
It’s clear the animal research industry and its allies don’t and won’t yet consider birds beings of “moral interest” . . . but we do, and we hope you do, too.
We believe that no animal – including not a single bird – belongs in a research facility or can be justly treated as a means to human ends.
We believe that each and every bird is a sentient being deserving of nothing less than our “moral interest”.
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