Every week bird markets are organised in Belgium. At these markets animals such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, poultry and exotic birds are sold. Faunawatch specialists have done research into the wellbeing of the animals at the “Vogelenmarkt” of Antwerp. This study took into account the 5 freedoms on which the EU law for the improvement of the wellbeing of animals is based.
Our research proved that the animals’ wellbeing is often neglected at these markets. The animals experience stress and fear. They are also often kept in small cages together with many other animals. On top of that, these markets promote impulse buying, which results in more animals being neglected or ending up in shelters. Although it might seem easy to take care of animals such as a canaries or parrots, they require special care.
Putting so many stressed animals together also leads to an increased transmission of diseases. This obviously has negative consequences for the animals, but it also poses a risk for public health. The markets are a possible source of parrot fever, which can be transmitted to humans as well.
We can summarise that these markets are problematic for the wellbeing of animals, encourage impulse buying and are a risk for public health. A solution for all these problems is banning them. Faunawatch is working towards this goal.
The above is a brief summary of all findings in our study. Further information can be provided.
Recently, Ben Weyts, the Belgian minister of Animal Welfare, has responded to our research: “In my opinion banning 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 higher 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 Belgian government to take action.