Every week bird markets are organised in Belgium. At these markets, animals are being sold such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, poultry and exotic birds. Faunawatch specialists have done research into the wellbeing of the animals at the “Vogelenmarkt” of Antwerp, based on the 5 freedoms on which the adopted EU law for the improvement of the wellbeing of animals is based.
This research has shown that there are serious problems regarding the wellbeing of the animals at bird markets. They experience stress and fear. They are kept in small cages and often together with many other animals. Besides that, such markets facilitate impulse buying. This results in more animals being neglected or ending up in shelters. Although the care of an animal such as a canary or a parrot might seem easy, a lot is involved in taking care of these animals so that they can have a truly good life.
Putting so many stressed animals together also leads to an increased transmission of diseases, which of course has negative consequences for the animals. In addition to that, the market can be a risk for public health. For the market is a possible source of the parrot fever, with which humans can be infected as well.
These markets are therefore problematic for the wellbeing of the animals, encourage impulse buying and are a risk for public health. A solution for all these problems is banning such markets. Faunawatch is working towards this goal.
The above is a brief summary of all findings. Further information can be provided.
Recently, Ben Weyts, the Belgium minister of Animal Welfare, has said this in response to our research: “In my opinion a ban on the sale of all living animals at markets is a good measure to ensure animal wellbeing. The sale of animals on fixed points of sale offers a bigger chance for adequate accommodation and animal care and prevents unnecessary relocations.”
Additionally, we have received positive responses to our research from various parliamentarians. We hope that this marks a beginning for change. We will keep pressuring the Belgium government to take action.