Of Parrots And People Hardcover – Aug 19 2008
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The most important book published on the state of our relationship with parrots."
-Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO, Humane Society of the United States --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Instead, it is a well-researched and presented book about all the ways that humans have interacted with and affected parrots over the years, both domestically and in the wild.
The author starts off with a chapter about parrot intelligence, followed by a chapter about parrot companions. From there, we travel to purgatory, then straight into hell. We are educated about the dark side of parrot breeding, and why there are so many parrot rescues and sanctuaries. The author goes to Mexico to follow the trail of parrot smuggling into the U.S. and barely manages to keep her composure, despite the horrors she witnesses. She spends a chapter on an undercover agent for U.S. Fish & Wildlife who has dedicated his life to stopping parrot smuggling. The chapter reads like an episode of Law and Order and is equally engrossing. She travels through South America with conservationist Charlie Munn and witnesses the glory of parrots in the wild. We learn about all the ways that human activity is driving parrots to extinction around the world. We even get to go along with her to meet Presley, one of the last remainng Spix's macaws in captivity, with all wild Spix's macaws already extinct. We learn about ecotourism and how it helps to save animals, such as parrots, in the wild.
This book should be required reading for anyone who lives with parrots, is contemplating getting a parrot, is interested in conservation, and, well, pretty much everyone. While parrots are the subject of the book, it could just as well be applied to animals in general. There are many stories in this book about reptile smuggling, another hot topic.
Ms. Tweti has written a well-researched and informative book which reads more like a crime novel than nonfiction book. Despite the horrors portrayed, the book is very commanding and difficult to put down. I cannot more strongly recommend this book.
Tweti begins by introducing the reader to the amazing cognitive, linguistic, and emotional capacity of parrots. The book's twelve chapters explore issues like: the crisis of unwanted birds and overburdened rescue facilities, feral flocks of non-native parrots in the United States, the plight of breeder birds on typical breeding farms, bird rescue organizations, parrot poaching and the illegal parrot trade, a US Fish & Wildlife Service Special Enforcement Agent's fight against parrot smuggling, and a trip to Brazil to see parrots in the wild with conservationist Charles Munn. She progresses from discussion of captive companion and breeding birds to the threats to wild parrot populations.
"Of Parrots and People" is not exhaustive on each topic, nor is it always objective, but it presents major parrot issues in a generally engaging style. I felt that Tweti could have done more to impress her readership with parrots' intelligence, to explain why they have such great needs in captivity and would be an extraordinary loss if they were extinct in the wild. People should be thinking of these birds as dolphin or elephants, as smarter than chimpanzees, by the time they finish the book, and I don't think they are. I was annoyed repeatedly by omissions and misstatements of facts to distort some issues. This is a polemic. But "Of Parrots and People" does illuminate the problems and provide insight into aspects of the parrot trade that even parrot lovers may not know about.
The book is well written and very informative, but the information is not for the faint hearted. This book details all that is wrong with the parrot world in no uncertain terms.
There are also inspiring stories of people that are truly making a difference for these wonderful creatures.
Anyone considering a parrot should read this book before going to a pet store and buying one.
I enjoyed the book, but wish I hadn't learned some of what it taught me.
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