What about euthanasia?

What about euthanasia?

There are sharply divided opinions about euthanasia and I’ve grouped them into 3 categories that I’ve encountered.

  1. Euthanizing an animal is fine if they are sick, annoying, or you just want to try out a different pet
  2. Euthanasia is a final option if all medical options are exhausted and the bird is on the edge of death (this is typical in humans)
  3. Euthanasia should be applied to animals that are suffering and there are no available options to alleviate it other than a lifetime of painkillers

There is also the added issue of financial burden. Categories 2 and 3 are evaluated differently if medical options are unaffordable.

With a blog called Free Range Parrots, I predictably believe in the third option. Part of being free is being free from unending suffering. How do you tell if your bird is suffering?

  • It’s not playing or singing or chirping much
  • It’s fairly inactive
  • It acts much better after giving a painkiller, indicating they are in considerable pain
  • Sometimes you can just intuit it by looking at the bird

Euthanising a bird is an extremely difficult thing and obviously should be given a lot of consideration. Birds are good at hiding their illness so if they act even remotely sick, they could be suffering much more than they let on.

Singing and flying give birds happiness and a sick bird does little to none of these.

A song well sung offers its own reward, a “bolus” of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and opioids.

The Genius of Birds—Jennifer Ackerman—2016

Birds engage in three types of play. First, locomotor play, which includes all types of flight-related play […]

Do Birds Have the Capacity for Fun—Current Biology—January 2015

According to the same article quoted right above, it’s currently still difficult to determine whether a bird is overall happy. However, we do know things that measurably cause happiness, such as singing.

In summary, it never hurts to rethink your position on euthanasia. Make sure you are not basing the decision on what you want or on the notion that you don’t want to “give up” on a bird. Think about how you want the end of your life to be if you become very ill and apply that to your bird.

Euthanasia can be something we offer to captive birds to end suffering that is not available to birds in the wild.