KOWHAI PARK AVIARY

The Tribune (NZ) - - Conversations -

I amex­cited about the Es­planade Wild­base Re­cov­ery cen­tre go­ing ahead in the near fu­ture with fund­ing sup­port from var­i­ous quar­ters. (Tri­bune June 25).I am es­pe­cially pleased that the aviary/ bird com­plex is mov­ing away from the dra­co­nian zoo phi­los­o­phy to more of a re­hab cen­tre with the an­i­mals be­ing re­leased back to the wild on re­cov­ery. So, I wanted to bring up a con­ver­sa­tion about the Feild­ing aviary in Kowhai Park where I of­ten wan­der with my el­derly dad. I un­der­stand from the Manawatu Dis­trict Coun­cil, that there are talks re­gard­ing pos­si­ble up­grades to this com­plex. Both its na­tive and ex­otic bird aviaries need a ma­jor over­haul to ex­pand the en­clo­sures to en­able rea­son­able flight and to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ments.I find the ex­otic bird aviary de­press­ing, es­pe­cially for the big­ger, in­quis­i­tive white par­rots liv­ing in these dis­mal, bar­ren small en­clo­sures. Con­cern­ing is the na­tive ‘Alpine Par­rots’ en­clo­sure where I have wit­nessed on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, the pair of kea clearly dis­play­ing signs of stress – made ob­vi­ous by their repet­i­tive pac­ing back and forth and peer­ing ob­ses­sively up though their net­ted prison to the open sky above. Their ridicu­lously small en­clo­sure may meet the ‘min­i­mum’ wel­fare guide­lines but it is clear to see that it falls far short of en­sur­ing any real flight op­por­tu­nity.

These South Is­land alpine birds are highly in­tel­li­gent, and ac­cord­ing to the Kea Con­ser­va­tion Trust, ‘‘have an in­sa­tiable cu­rios­ity, there­fore need high lev­els of vari­abil­ity and nov­elty in their cap­tive en­vi­ron­ment’’. They are strong flight birds, known to fly sev­eral kilo­me­tres in a mat­ter of min­utes. Jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for keep­ing these spe­cial na­tive birds cap­tive can­not be ar­gued on ed­u­ca­tional grounds be­cause there is no in­for­ma­tion out­side the en­clo­sures for peo­ple to learn about them any­way. I dis­like see­ing most an­i­mals in cap­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially strong flight birds, for just the pur­pose of ‘Public Dis­play’’. If the coun­cil can­not sub­stan­tially im­prove and en­large the kea’s en­vi­ron­ment, then per­haps they should be re-homed via the ‘Kea Con­ser­va­tion Trust’ to a sanc­tu­ary where they can at least spread their wings. Why the need to keep tui or wood pi­geons (un­less per­ma­nently in­jured) in cap­tiv­ity here given they are a com­mon fix­ture in our back­yards and park spa­ces?I hope the park aviary will have the makeover that the birds de­serve and that the peo­ple and busi­nesses in Feild­ing will dig deep in their pock­ets to make it hap­pen.

Jenny Doyle Ter­race End

Caged kea in Feild­ing’s Kowhai Park aviary.

Photo: GRANT MATTHEW/FAIR­FAX NZ

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