In his native Indonesia, Sinclair would have spent his days swooping through the treetops, chattering with his friends, and foraging for leaves, seeds, nuts, berries, and root vegetables. But instead, like many other cockatoos in the pet trade, he languished for 15 years in a cramped and barren cage, bored and lonely.

sinclair photo

This is a common fate for exotic birds kept as pets. Most buyers don’t realize how much time, energy, and expense are involved in properly caring for these complex animals, who can live up to 60 years. They are like 2-year-old children in their need for care and attention, but they’re often set aside and forgotten. Sinclair was one of these birds.

When PETA workers came across Sinclair, he was underweight and malnourished, he had no perches in his cage, and his nails were overgrown. PETA staff tried to work with his owner on improving the bird’s care, but when the owner turned down our help, we alerted local police. An officer checked in on Sinclair for several months, but his condition never improved. On the officer’s last visit, Sinclair had no food or water and his cage was filthy, so the officer seized him, and PETA worked on finding veterinary care and a good forever home for the sweet, neglected bird.

Sinclair has now been adopted, and his life has changed completely:

He puts on makeup:


He plays hide-and-seek:


He holds hands:


And he is straight-up modeling:


He drinks from the faucet:


He started doing yoga:


And he’s finally loving life:


Sinclair’s story had a happy ending, but there are still millions of other birds in the U.S. who are kept caged and are often improperly cared for—bored, lonely, and a long way from their natural homes.

caged bird parrot

Caged | Basheer | CC BY 2.0  

Where Do They Come From?

All caged birds were either captured in the wild or bred in captivity. Just as there are puppy mills, there are enormous bird factories, in which breeders warehouse thousands of parrots and other exotic birds, who are frequently confined to dirty, dimly lit cages, unable even to stretch their wings fully.

Wild-caught parrots are also a large part of the multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife trade. While many smugglers are caught illegally importing these birds, most aren’t caught, so thousands of sick and terrified birds enter the companion bird trade each year.

How to Help Birds Like Sinclair 

No matter how well you care for a bird, you will never be able to provide a life that matches his or her natural habitat. No bird wants to live in a cage, and the best way to help birds is by never buying a pet bird and educating your friends and family about the pet trade. If you already have a bird, check out this guide to bird care for tips. Never release a captive bird outdoors.

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