As of January 1st, 2026, the sale of animals at markets is prohibited in Flanders. As a result of Faunawatch’s investigations, questions have regularly been asked in the Flemish Parliament about animal welfare at bird markets in Belgium. Minister of Animal Welfare, Ben Weyts, has indicated in these debates that the bird markets are indeed out of date. This has led to the achievement of our goal: a ban on bird markets!
Weekly bird markets are organized in Belgium. These markets sell animals such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, poultry and exotic birds. Specialists from Faunawatch have investigated the welfare of the animals at the “Vogelenmarkt” of Antwerp, based on the 5 freedoms, on which the law adopted by the European Union for the improvement of animal welfare is based.
This study found that there are serious problems for the welfare of the animals at bird markets. They experience stress and anxiety. They are kept in small cages and often with many animals together. In addition, such markets also encourage impulse buying. This causes more animals to be neglected or end up in shelters. Even though caring for an animal like a canary or a parrot may seem easy, there is a lot involved in caring for these animals to give them a really good life.
Bringing so many stressed animals together also increases disease transmission, which has negative consequences for the animals. In addition, the market can also pose a risk to public health. This is because the market is potentially a source for the spread of parrot disease, which can also infect humans.
Thus, these markets create a major animal welfare problem, increase the likelihood of impulse purchases and pose a public health risk.
One solution to all these problems is to ban such markets. Faunawatch is committed to this goal.