UK Charity Wants to Outlaw Tethering Birds of Prey

An animal rights organization based in the U.K. wants to ban tethering birds of prey, a common practice in zoos around the world.

Anti-captivity charity Freedom for Animals made the public call after conducting an undercover investigation that found that large birds like eagles and owls were being tied down for most the day. According to the report, the birds were only allowed to fly for an average of 11 minutes per day.

“Historically, there has been very little scrutiny of this industry and we feel that with the rising awareness around animal captivity, the time has come for this to be taken seriously,” said Freedom for Animals Campaigns Officer Maddy Taylor.

Acclaimed veterinarian Emma Milne joined the call for a total ban, adding that denying birds flight is “unacceptable on welfare grounds.”

“Simply put, birds do not belong in cages and this practice should be stopped.”

And she’s not the only one. A representative for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) also spoke out against the practice.

“Birds should have the opportunity to fly when they choose and they should always have access to water and shelter, both from the weather and the public.”

Footage from the investigation shows the birds attempting to break free of their restraints through use of their beaks. The investigation also uncovered that a third of all zoos did not meet cage size requirements. Many of the birds were living in cramped spaces that prevented them from stretching out their wings.

A representative for the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs encouraged members of the public to report suspected violations.

“Where there is evidence that a bird of prey is being kept inappropriately in a zoo, it should be reported to the local authority which can investigate and, if necessary, initiate enforcement action.”