First of all, it is important, I think, to have a sense of what might be motivating Cee Lo to have various creatures cuddling with him as he sits in judgement. It seems to me there are a few possibilities:
My hope is that #3 is the correct answer. But I suspect that is not the case. I have watched the show, and there really is no room for any of the judges to use their time to educate and raise awareness about issues close to their heart. So assuming that this will not be an educational endeavor, what’s wrong with having Lady participate on the show? On the surface Lady’s inclusion seems innocuous. Purrfect didn’t rate a fuss, so why should Lady?
Moluccan Cockatoos can be sweet and cuddly, and bond closely to their person, but there is a dark side to this:
Most people who adopt on a whim are not prepared for this.
If Lady happens to be a talker, it’s even more problematic. When I take my Mitred Conure out to educational sessions or pet therapy usually the first question people ask me is “Does she talk?” I tell them “Yes, absolutely. She speaks parrot, and I’m trying my best to learn.” Too often parrots are adopted because the idea of a talking pet is simply irresistible. If Lady talks, look out.
Buying a Cockatoo might support illegal importation
If all of this attention meant that parrot rescues would be inundated with people willing and able to provide long-term, loving, knowledgeable homes to the cockatoos in their care, fabulous! The more likely scenario, though, is that people will go to pet stores, or head to a breeder for a baby. And the cycle of buy, become exasperated, dump, will continue, as it has over and over again. Add to this the very real concern that you cannot be certain where pet store birds come from. They may have been bred locally, and the quality of breeders is extremely variable. They may also have been imported.
The Moluccan Cockatoo is listed as a vulnerable species, on Appendix I [the most endangered list] of The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, so the trade in wild-caught Moluccans is illegal. Sadly, this does not mean that it has ended, and the ways that smugglers get birds into the country are typically horrific.
Impulse-buying of Cockatoos will lead to more shelter-overpopulation
Rescues are typically responsible about educating prospective adopters about the challenges of the species they are interested in, so it is no surprise that finding suitable homes for the many, many Cockatoos that come into their programs is tough. And if Lady’s appearance on The Voice encourages even a few people to buy a bird, there is no doubt that this means more future shelter residents — NO doubt.
In The Parrot Who Owns Me, Joanna Burger wrote that “being owned by a parrot is not for the faint of heart.” Multiply this by ten when it comes to Moluccans. If those who purchase these birds aren’t prepared to maintain the relationship over the long haul, somebody will have to step in, and that somebody too often is a rescue organization that is staffed mostly or entirely by volunteers, in a space that is inadequate, and with more Cockatoos than can possibly be adopted out.
How you can help
But you, the reader, can help Cockatoos.