Animal rights group Animal Aid has called on its supporters to boycott IPC after alleging the national exhibition run by its Cage & Aviary Birds magazine is cruel and illegal.
The event, at Birmingham’s NEC, is licensed to sell around 100,000 exotic birds but, according to Animal Aid, around three-quarters of the birds at last year’s exhibition had been captured in the wild.
The group, which has around 20,000 supporters in the UK, has written to IPC and its parent company in New York, Time Warner, to try to stop the event, but has received no response.
It plans to stage a protest and gather evidence at this year’s exhibition in December. It has also threatened to take legal action if the local authority in Birmingham fails to prosecute the organisers and IPC.
Elaine Toland, senior campaigns officer for Animal Aid, told Press Gazette: “We are concerned about the impact and cruelty of transportation because three out of four birds don’t survive. This event itself is illegal and so is any activity that involves the business of selling pet animals in a public place.” In a letter to Time Warner, the group claimed the birds were either captured in flight by nets, trapped in baited cages, or stuck to the branches of trees with “sticky bird lime”.
Animal Aid launched its campaign after the NEC granted the licence to IPC in March. “We are looking into the option of taking legal action if Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council fails to enforce the law and prosecute the traders and the organisers of the venue,” Toland said.
IPC issued a statement refuting the claims, saying the welfare of birds was of “paramount importance” to the magazine. The company said the majority of the 15,000 birds involved were bred in captivity, that the event was completely legal and met “and far exceeds the required care standards with five veterinary surgeons on site and annual inspection by the RSPCA”.
It added: “IPC Media has vigorously defended its right to hold the exhibition this year, just as it has been held for the past 59 years, and will therefore be supporting the rights of all responsible pet owners in the UK.”
By Ruth Addicott