Help the animals of the Glasshouse (Queen's Park, Glasgow)
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Nearly two months ago I visited the Glasshouse (Queen's Park, Glasgow) and came across a situation that can only be described as animal neglect. Birds and reptiles are being kept on the premises and their living conditions are definitely not acceptable.
Since then I have been going back every single weekend to monitor the situation, and I have now created this petition to ask Glasgow City Council to rehome the animals with the help of animal-related charities (i.e. Parrot Trust Scotland for the birds).
This is what the situation looks like at the moment:
- All seed diet for cockatiels, finches and budgies. Variety is the key to a good diet, but we've never seen anything apart from millet spray and seed in the enclosure.
- Pigeons clinging to the mesh that separates the cockatiels enclosure from the outside (a second mesh has now been put on top of the first one, but it's open on the side). On top of that, there is enough space for rodents to sneak in at the bottom of the enclosure, and this morning it looked like a small area has been dug out an pushed aside, which would lead me to believe there was something digging at the bottom.
- No enrichment in the cockatiels enclosure. There is nothing apart from some bare branches, some water, millet spray/seed and a cuttle bone (on the ground). There is a garden bird bath that is being used as a container for seed, and it's been placed just next to some branches, so there are bird droppings in it.
- There are nesting boxes in the same enclosure, encouraging hormonal behaviour and breeding, which would make the situation even more dreadful than it is.
- This sort of environment isn't suitable for a plucking bird, like one of the grey cockatiels in there. Land and Environmental Services said that the issue seems to be psychological, and if this is the truth, that bird needs a much different environment.
- Some of the toys contain really dangerous parts like keyrings, chains and rusty bells that may cause heavy metal poisoning. Birds may also get their beak caught in the keyrings and chains and break it (it has happened to other birds before and it's all documented online but I’m not sure you want to see that).
- Very high humidity levels, which make the food spoil faster and harbour bacteria that will make the birds ill. Lack of natural light and fresh air.
- Unsuitable diet for the bigger parrots. Pellets contain colorants and in many occasions we have seen peanuts with shells, which can cause aspergillosis.
- Beetles in the Senegal parrot's aviary, in the wood shavings at the bottom (next to his food and water).
- Narrow aisles and children often banging their hands on the glass, which stresses the birds out.
- General low standards of cleanliness.
- Lack of proper interaction, despite birds being notoriously demanding animals who require a lot of love and interaction (even smaller ones).
As the place is run by Glasgow City Council, I have tried to get in touch with several people, hoping they would listen to me immediately. All I got was a very simple response from LES stating that they had a vet and SSPCA visit the premises and confirmed all is fine. Despite me asking for evidence to support this statement, this wasn't provided to me or the (many) other people who asked. I have also asked for a meeting multiple times, but my requests were ignored.
If you want more context you can visit my Facebook profile (just search "Carmen Simio"), where I have posted details about the matter. I have also posted on several groups (i.e. Battlefield Community Project, Shawlands Community Group, Strathbungo and Shawlands Community Group, Govanhill Go), and even created my own group to discuss the issue and get more people involved: https://www.facebook.com/groups/176492973196038/
I would love to get many more people involved so we can get our voices heard. I would also be keen on hearing from reptile experts. Reptiles are being kept on the premises too and do not look like they're having a good life either.
If you're interested in having more context, please find below my response to LES, where I address every single point raised by them. Please note that I haven't received an answer to this yet. I will post an update if I receive anything from them.
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=== REPLY TO LES ===
· The parrots do not have dangerous heavy metals in their cages, they are specifically designed for parrots.
Metal bells, chains, and keyrings are hazardous to parrots. Not only can the metal rust and become very toxic, but birds often get their beaks caught and broken in these items. This results in the bird being unable to eat. Many sellers falsely claim materials are stainless steel and many buyers take it for granted that they're safe because they're sold by petshops or online stores. Any avian specialist would be able to confirm what I am stating is true, and by "avian specialist" I mean a proper avian specialist, not a vet that also treats birds. The difference between the two is substantial.
· The feed pellets given are specifically developed for parrots “Kaytee” and we have a full analysis from the company. Any colouring of the pellets is from natural agents and there are no artificialcolourants or chemicals. The birds are also supplemented with fruit and vegetables and multi vitamin and minerals through their water.
The "analysis" on the website is very vague. I have observed that they claim it contains "various sugars". Just like humans, having too much sugar in their diet is bad for birds. Additionally, any company will state that their food is the best, but a bird expert will know that not all pellets are good. However, one of the main concerns about the food is that it is kept on the bottom of the enclosure where it can be soiled by bird droppings or be a food source for the insects that infest the wood shavings. We have videos that prove the presence of cockroaches and beetles in the wood shavings, which I will happily show to you upon request. Could you also please explain the presence of peanuts with shells? Has this been approved by an avian vet? Have you ever heard of aspergillosis? The peanuts, that on many occasions we have seen in their food bowls, can cause that. The (very high) humidity levels and lack of air flow in the room can also facilitate the growth of mould that may result in aspergillosis.
· Pest control is dealt with by outside contractors. Understandably, any preventative measures need to be mindful of chemicals around the birds and also if the insects are subsequently eaten. There are cockroach traps and the keepers inspect the enclosures at least twice daily to attend to any issues.
Changing the location of the food and water from the floor of the enclosures to an elevated position on the side of the space in combination with more frequent changing of the wood shavings may assist in the reduction of pests. Replacing wood shavings with newspapers (that use vegetable-based ink) may also help keep pests away.
· The birds receive a lot of attention/interaction from their keepers some of which have very close bonds.
They may have brief periods of interaction with the keepers, but they should be allowed to be out of the enclosures for at least two hours a day to socialise and exercise. Additionally, they receive very negative attention/interaction by way of people tapping/banging on the glass which causes undue stress to the animal. We have personally witnessed this several times.
Additionally, it doesn't look like the birds in the aviary enclosure (which is by far the most concerning) are getting any interaction or attention. We have seen a lot of pigeons trying to reach the millet sprays that have been placed atop the nesting boxes, and I wouldn't be surprised if mice visited their enclosure for food too. There is enough space for mice to easily sneak into the aviary. This is very serious, pigeons and rodents bring diseases that are potentially fatal. This hasn’t been addressed in your reply, and it is among the main reasons for concern.
· The birds receive correct light and photoperiod and have their own UV lights present also.
Please advise on how often the UV lightbulbs are changed. They lose effectiveness after a period of time that will be specified by the manufacturer. Are the UV lights full spectrum?
· These birds were rescued and have stayed here very happily with some in excess of 20 years. Their aviaries have doubled in size and they are offered the best the unit can offer without rehoming them, which in itself could be stressful. Also at the request of Dr Gore who carried out the assessment for the renewal of the zoo licence, enrichment was added to the birds cages, however, some found this stressful since they were not used to it and time and carehas been taken to achieve acceptance.
With which vet hospital does Dr. Gore practice? Is he an avian specialist?
Where is the enrichment in the enclosure with the cockatiels, finches, and budgies? All we can see is branches, soiled food, dust (not grit, dust), and nesting boxes that encourage them to reproduce in such terrible conditions, or at the very least make them more territorial and nervous. What I see is very sad birds whose lives don’t matter to Glasgow City Council.
· There are no hygiene issues with the aviary. There are 2 types of grit available which the complainant could misconstrue as dust as well as a bowl of seeds and food.
The aviary needs far more attention paid to it. We have photos that show an unacceptable buildup of bird droppings on both the wooden beams and the birdbath that contains seed for the cockatiels/budgies. The aforementioned birdbath filled with seed is also a health hazard as the bird droppings are mixed in with the seed. Cockatiels, budgies, and finches should not be provided with grit.
Please see this website: https://lafeber.com/pet-birds/foods-toxic-pet-birds/ The URL is from Lafeber, which is a reputable source, and the contents of the page was written by an avian specialist. Grit may cause intestinal blockages.
My partner and I keep cockatiels and never gave them grit. They are incredibly healthy (checkups are carried out every 6 months by the avian vet at Apex Vets in Denny) and you are more than welcome to ask for pictures of their cages/toys/food if you wish to see how they are looked after. I strongly feel that the birds in that enclosure should be rehomed through charities, for example Parrot Trust Scotland. They are extremely competent and would be able to assist.
· The feather plucking cockatiel is always a topic and has been monitored for some time- in fact there is an explanatory notice to that effect. He has not been removed from display since the feather plucking is not from the other birds, he does it himself. He has had medical investigations and the problem is deemed psychological. This can be a challenging problem to cure. It was decided not to isolate him from his cage mates since that would be stressful and he has continued to feed and thrive for many years in this manner. Alternatives would be to isolate him and medicate with psychoactive drugs or consider euthanasia. We feel we have made the best decision currently.
Who investigated the issue? Could you please provide evidence of appropriate tests being carried out to rule out any medical condition?
Birds who pluck (when the issue is psychological) can do this for a number of reasons. They may do it for attention, bad environment, bad food, change of routine, too many other birds around, being picked on, wanting affection from a human or other bird but not getting it, abuse, neglect, fear, hormones, feeling dirty (haven't been bathed so their feathers and skin feel dirty), dirty environment, drinking water not free from debris, no outlet for their chewing (shreddable toys), they don't like their owner etc. There are so many possible reasons.
This bird needs to feel safe within a peacful environment. All efforts should be taken to reduce the amount of stress in their living area. There are many possible solutions, but none of them include that cockatiel being in an aviary with the conditions as they are, which may instead be making the problem worse. There is a problem that must be addressed, but not by putting him in an aviary and telling us that the bird is fine. I keep cockatiels and have many years of experience with birds. As an experienced bird keeper I can assure you that the plucked cockatiel is not in a healthy environment.
The plucked cockatiel may benefit from being rehomed to someone who can offer the bird regular attention and interaction (again this should be done with the help of a bird charity, as rehoming randomly will do more harm than good). Additionally, as I am sure that you are aware, seeing an animal in this condition on display is very distressing to your visitors, not to mention that it does not reflect well on Glasgow City Council.
· Following the complaint received from the member of the public the SSPCA have visited the premise and they were satisfied to the point of offering more birds-this was currently declined.
Please obtain this in writing from the SSPCA and share this with me if possible. Was the SSPCA delegate an avian specialist? Over the phone we were told that their officers are not avian specialists.
· It was concluded that there is no cause for concern with the upkeep of the birds from the professional people giving advice during the site visits.
If pigeons, possible rodents, cockroaches, and beetles aren’t a cause of concern, I don’t know what will be. Are these low standards that of Glasgow City Council? If so, this is very concerning. Additionally, is this where our council tax goes towards? To the unacceptable standard of upkeep for those poor animals? As I am sure that you are aware, people aren’t happy about the way the birds are being kept and the amount of complaints you received should prove this. Since you work for the people of Glasgow, you should at least try to listen.
As mentioned above, myself and many others strongly advocate rehoming, at least for the budgies, cockatiels, and finches as they look absolutely miserable. The place where they are kept is unsuitable for all the reasons that have been explained above. That space could be turned into something that could be interesting, less expensive, and require less maintenance than the animals that the Council clearly can't afford keeping. More money could be spent on doing about the growing homeless population of Glasgow, or providing something positive for underprivilaged or disabled children, for example.
If those birds don’t benefit from their current conditions, the Council’s reputation benefits from them even less. I am aware that there have been several complaints after the issue was brought up, and I really don’t feel like Glasgow City Council can justify, in any way, what basically amounts to animal neglect.
Again, I would like to officially request a meeting with someone who has the authority to do something to change the situation. We are more than happy to assist in anything that would make the lives of those birds better, but someone needs to listen. I would appreciate it if someone could possibly get back to me and arrange the requested meeting.
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