Phase out practice of keeping caged birds

The new Code of Animal Welfare (for the Pet Industry) issued by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is a positive step forward for our society ("AVA issues code for pet shops"; Aug 12).

We are finding a better way for compassion and commerce to co-exist.

For pet birds, however, we cannot regard the issue of improved welfare without considering their nature. For us to devise forms of humane treatment while ignoring the deprivation of their freedom is simply self-serving.

Flying is an inalienable right birds are born into.

In a May 2015 India court case, the Delhi High Court gave judicial recognition of this right, which Justice Manmohan Singh explained as "fundamental".

Birds are not licensed pets. Their capture, transport, display and keeping come under bare legal protection.

The new code aims to address some of these grey areas where suffering can be generally invisible. For this, we are thankful and supportive.

We recognise, too, that our local bird shops are inheriting a tradition.

However, as with traditions we know are anomalous to the good of our environment, we need to call for an end to it at some point soon.

Our demand for entertainment from caged animals is not what we are proud to pass on to future Singaporeans.

We hope AVA would recognise the cruelty of keeping birds in cages and plan a total phase-out of this practice in five years.

The timeframe will provide leeway for issues, such as bird rehabilitation and adoption, to be addressed.

We also call upon Jurong Bird Park, as the seminal avian educator and conservationist, to lead the public in our progress towards a more compassionate attitude for birds.

Eugene Yip Tuck Meng

Founder

Born To Fly Project