Why Buyers Should Beware of Gifting Chicks and Ducklings for Easter: ‘They’re Not Pets’

Anthrozoologist and animal rights activist John Di Leonardo warns against gifting newborn chicks and ducklings as Easter presents, saying that though the animals are cute, the baby birds are not pets.

Like bunnies, newborn chicks and ducklings are as synonymous with Easter as colored eggs. But do they belong in baskets as gifts this holiday?

Anthrozoologist and animal rights activist John Di Leonardo, the director of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), says the answer is a definitive no. “These little guys, they’re cute but they’re not pets,” he told Inside Edition. 

Anyone considering gifting such animals as presents this Easter should think twice, Di Leonardo said, noting people should keep in mind that bunnies, chicks and ducklings are real living things and not photo props. 

In years past, the Easter holiday comes and goes, and many birds given as presents end up getting released into the wild after they’ve grown out of the hatchling phase, Di Leonardo said. Often abandoned because of the amount of care it takes to raise them, the animals are not prepared to survive on their own, he noted. 

In New York, experts say baby bird abandonment has become such a problem there's actually a state law against selling fewer than six baby chicks or ducklings at a time if they are under 2 months of age. 

“This law intends to limit impulse buys like around Easter when one wants to buy them and put them in a basket,” Di Leonardo said. 

But do stores always follow that law, especially as Easter approaches? Inside Edition investigated.  

Inside an animal feed store on Long Island, there were lots of baby birds. An employee said the birds there were between three and four days old. 

An Inside Edition producer filmed as two baby chicks and two ducklings were boxed up for Di Leonardo’s wife and sold to her for less than $50. But Di Leonardo says selling them in that small quantity when the birds are at that young age violates New York State law.

Di Leonardo and his wife brought the birds purchased back to their bird sanctuary, where they said they will get all of the love and care they need. 

“I think a lot of people, they think that they're buying them and releasing them, they're doing a good thing, but what they don't realize is these animals can't fly, they can't migrate, they can't survive in the wild,” Di Leonardo said. 

The law in place is a misdemeanor punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

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