By Dave Sigworth, publicist of The Maritime Aquarium
It’s been a fun summer with the birds here in our special “Lorikeets” exhibit. But the exhibit closes on Labor Day and soon they’ll be winging their way (well, not literally) back to their owners in Florida.
You may have delighted in being introduced to these colorful types of parrots, which are native to eastern and northern Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the South Pacific. Maybe you even bought a cup of nectar and had them land on you to feed.
These opportunities to get close to animals are exciting and inspirational. But the inspiration we hope you take away from the exhibit is a commitment to appreciating and caring for our natural world – not just for animals but also for the environment that is their (and our) home.
We’d be less excited to hear that we inspired you to go out and buy a lorikeet.
Lorikeets and other species of tropical birds certainly are available from pet stores. But they can be long-lived – 15, 20 or more years – and require an informed commitment for proper care.
They’re beautiful but they can develop health and behavioral issues unless you’re a fully dedicated owner. Frequently, we see and hear stories of people overwhelmed by the care required by an exotic animal – and so they let them go. This is wrong for the animal and can be very wrong for the environment.
Lorikeets, in fact, are not native to western Australia, but – having been introduced there (maybe intentionally; maybe accidentally) in the early 1960s – they are now thriving and considered to be a huge pest in relation to the native flora and fauna. In Perth, they’ve even had to create an organization (or “Working Group”) of affected parties to try to figure out what to do about the birds.
The point is … be smart about your pets.
And, although it will be sad to see the lorikeets leave the Aquarium, odds are pretty good that you’ll be seeing them again here before you know it.