History as pets

Old drawing of a cockatoo

Around the year 1850 the first cockatoos were discovered by European sailors. Their travels to Indonesia and other Eastern countries brought them in contact with these birds. At first the sailors brought back dead specimens to show to scientist or collectors, but later also live birds were taken on the ships. The native people of the countries where cockatoos occur naturally already kept cockatoos as pets for many decades.

Around the year 1900 it become common for European aristocrats to keep parrots and cockatoos as pets. All of these pets were imported from the wild. Around 1985 the first cockatoos were captive bred in the Netherlands. In the UK and USA significant successes in breeding cockatoos were achieved. Now (almost) all cockatoo pets are captive bred. This protects the cockatoo populations in the wild and protects the birds from importing diseases. Right now it is even illegal to import certain cockatoo species.

The amount of pet cockatoos continues to grow in the USA, the UK and Europe. People are shifting from buying adult pet cockatoos to buying baby cockatoos. Baby cockatoos need to be fed with formula and are not yet independent. Usually these birds never saw their parents, but were incubated in an incubator. Because of the preference for baby cockatoos, the amount of unwanted adult cockatoos is growing.