Dr X: an apology
Good triumphs over evil: Dr. X sees the light and apologises
When I wrote the article on "Beak-altering Procedure to Disarm Aggressive Male Cockatoos", I had no idea of the firestorm of controversy it would create in the bird community. When the idea for this procedure came about and then when I performed the surgery and observed the results over a period of several years, I truly felt I had a possible solution to the difficult problem of cockatoo mate aggression when other management techniques failed. My reason for publishing was to share this information with other avian veterinarians so that they could be aware of something that potentially could be done as a last resort since options are limited.
I will admit that at the time I really didn't think about whether this procedure was ethically right or wrong, both for the bird or the owner.
It seemed like a viable way to keep a previously bonded pair of birds together by preventing the likelihood of additional trauma to the female. I will also agree that I didn't fully take into account or address the likelihood of pain caused to the male by doing this surgery. I went by what I observed and that was that it seemed like the bird wasn't affected negatively in any way by doing this. But honestly, I don't know for sure.
Over the past six months the internet talk about this procedure and ethics in general in regards to the care and welfare of birds in captivity has been intense to say the least. I have had the opportunity to read the comments from many E-mails sent my way, some which were mere hysteria from misinformed people but others which were very thought provoking and have challenged my code of ethical conduct. All that I have heard has stimulated me to thoroughly evaluate my stand on this issue.
Public outcry and opinion from both veterinarians and bird owners has convinced me that this is not a proper, viable alternative for mate aggression, not only for the bird, but for the whole avicultural community as well. From an ethical standpoint, I am willing to admit that I was wrong.
I can't take back what I've written about this procedure or my personal experiences in doing it but I will discontinue performing this procedure in the future and will discourage others from doing so as well.
I want to personally apologize for the anguish that I have created among my fellow veterinarians and pet bird owners in regards to this issue.