Keeping a bird as a pet in a cage has been an age-old practice.
This has been unquestioned, as though caging birds to make them sing or perform for us is our fundamental right as the stronger species.
We have, in our advance towards better animal welfare, given little attention to the welfare of birds.
Birds are born to fly.
Caging them or clipping their wings to hold them back from reaching the sky is analogous to, if not worse than, the ancient Chinese practice of foot-binding - forced and painful, and unnecessary, if not for human gratification.
Unable to stretch their wings, fly with their own kind, socialise and live in their natural habitat, these creatures of the sky are reduced to bored, lonely and stunted forms of their natural being.
While caged birds may sometimes appear chirpy, with simple food and water, it is not difficult to imagine their psychological and physical suffering from years of confinement.
Their physiological needs may be met but, eventually, they will experience torture from being unable to fly free.
Birds do live a long life. Canaries live 10 to 15 years; an African grey parrot can live up to 50 to 70 years.
These are birds found in our bird shops. That is how long these pet birds can suffer in confinement.
Our society has to rethink the practice of confining birds for our entertainment.
There are no grounds, other than familiarity, to justify the painful price these animals are paying to make us feel momentarily happy.
Eugene Yip Tuck Meng
Born To Fly Project
Forum Note: Born To Fly Project is an initiative to advocate better bird welfare in Singapore