Feather Follicle Extirpation

Chapter 36 Feather Follicle Extirpation

Operative Techniques to Prevent Zoo Birds from Flying

In zoos, birds such as flamingos, pelicans, and waterfowl are ideally exhibited in large areas, often with lakes and islands. In such displays, the birds have to be prevented from escaping. This may be achieved by constructing large free-flight aviaries or by applying different flight restraint methods to the birds. Preventing birds from flying is an important ethical issue and has been discussed extensively, although without satisfying conclusions so far.

However, the method of feather follicle extirpation could be applied to certain bird species without inappropriately influencing their normal behavior because swimming, diving, walking, eating, and maintaining balance during copulation are still possible. Obviously, the problem of maintaining balance is not as challenging for follicle-extirpated birds as it is, for example, for pinioned birds9 (Box 36-1).


Feathers have a cornified epidermis. During growth, the feather is supplied with blood from the follicle. The venous and arterial vessels degenerate once the growth is completed. Therefore, traumatization of newly growing feathers can cause severe blood loss.

The pinion is a contour feather with a hollow shaft and a vane. The shaft consists of the big shaft (rhachis) and the calamus. The vane has plenty of rigid filaments (barbae) in a fan-shaped position. Those carry additional finer filaments (barbulae), which are interconnected with little hooks (hamulus). The umbilicus proximalis is situated at the end of the quill (Fig. 36-2).1,10

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Aug 27, 2016 | Posted by in EXOTIC, WILD, ZOO | Comments Off on Feather Follicle Extirpation

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