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Dear Parrots magazine,

Top expert writings appreciated!

I should like to say just how much I have enjoyed the recent articles by David Woolcock and Michael Simmons. For several years now I have taken the advice of Rosemary Low to "Go West for Parrots," (as in the title of her book about her travels in the Caribbean and, Central and South America), although in my case it has been to visit zoological collections in the West Country. Parrot lovers in the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset are fortunate indeed to have so many excellent collections at their disposal.

Particular favourites of mine are Paignton Zoo and Tropiquaria, plus the fairly new Wingz Bird and Animal Sanctuary which is a wonderful addition to the wildlife attractions in Cornwall. My annual visit to Paradise Park is a major highlight and as a result I am very familiar with both Cedric the Citron-crested Cockatoo and Ross the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, so it was a great pleasure to read about them in Parrots.

One thing that has intrigued me for some time however, is something mentioned by Mr Woolcock in his article in the January 2013 issue on the breeding of the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, and that is the comment, “the smuggled birds have lost their freedom forever.”

I do find it strange that a park that presents a collection of captive animals to the public makes such a statement, as I think it infers the residents of the park are in a worse position than their wild relatives that face a daily struggle for survival. Maybe that is just the lifelong zoo enthusiast within me!

As an aficionado of bird shows and displays I have found the articles by Michael Simmons absolutely fascinating. Most of my zoo and bird garden visiting highlights revolve around these shows. In addition to the excellent displays at Paradise Park (oh, those free-flying Military Macaws!) and Paignton Zoo, I never miss the wonderful show on my visits to Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire. But my undoubted highlight of 2012 was to admire the Green-winged Macaws soaring above the treetops during my euphoric first ever visit to the Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre near Sheffield.

My main hope for 2013 is to visit the Welsh Mountain Zoo at Colwyn Bay for its 50th anniversary and to marvel at the macaws swooping around the hillside with the breathtaking backdrop of mountains and the sea. To my mind, this is the most spectacular sight in any British zoological collection.

To be able to gain an insight into the techniques used by a top trainer such as Mr Simmons has been a major privilege. I am hoping we shall be treated to more articles by both Mr Simmons and Mr Woolcock.

Andrew Stevens, East Yorkshire




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