International Supermodel Unveils New PETA Ad That Is ‘For The Birds’

For Immediate Release:
8 July 2003

Poorva Joshipura 0207 357 9229 Ext 229; [email protected]


Mumbai – International male supermodel Marcus Schenkenberg, who is in India this week for a V men’s magazine photo shoot, took time out of his whirlwind schedule to unveil a new ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Inspired by a widely publicized incident in which he freed a bird who had become trapped in his hotel room, the ad shows a buff, shirtless Marcus freeing a bird from a cage with the tagline, ‘Let birds fly free. A cage is a prison.’ Marcus held a news conference to unveil the ad at Mumbai’s prestigious Le Royal Méridien hotel immediately after he arrived in the city.

The ad is part of PETA’s international campaign to raise awareness of the cruelty that is involved in the capturing, breeding and caging of wild birds. Captured birds go from a life of flying free, raising their families and enjoying life in the treetops of their jungle homes to a life of confinement in small pet shop cages. Although Britain does not allow its own wild birds to be part of the international pet trade, British pet shops sell species that have been imported from other continents. Eighty-eight per cent of parrots, parakeets, lovebirds and related species-some 23,920 individuals-imported into the UK between 1995 and 2000 were caught from the wild. According to one report, the UK imports a greater proportion of birds for the pet trade than the rest of Europe combined.

India is home to some 1,200 different species of birds. The Indian Wildlife Act bans the trade and trapping of indigenous birds, and the trade of foreign birds is restricted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Caging and displaying parrots and parakeets is illegal and punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison. Despite this, bird markets flourish openly in many places in India and poachers continue to smuggle birds out of the country.

Fledgling birds are captured from their nests, and other birds are caught in traps or nets, which can cause serious injury or death. Birds are illegally transported in India, and bribes are paid to authorities to look the other way while poachers bring thousands of birds, packed into small boxes, from the forests of the northeast into the cities. Sixty per cent of birds die on the journey from broken bones, thirst or fright. It is estimated that for every bird who reaches his or her final destination, two die en route.

This is not the first time that Marcus has put his famous physique to work for animals. He posed nude for a live ‘human billboard’ in New York City’s Times Square to launch PETA’s ‘Turn Your Back on Fur’ Campaign, and he joined PETA in launching the ‘no fur’ dress code at New York’s popular Tunnel nightclub.

A statement from Marcus follows.

For a copy of the ad, please visit or contact PETA.


I am thrilled that I could do something for the animals in India on my first trip to this beautiful country.
One thing that breaks my heart is the sight of caged birds who are imprisoned for no other reason than to be used as decoration in homes and shops. I was horrified when my friends at PETA told me about the suffering that these birds endure before they are turned into trophies.

I have always had an affinity for birds. I grew up in Stockholm and have fond memories of watching birds frolic in my back garden as they chirped happily and flew from one tree to the other. In fact, a few years back while visiting with PETA director Dan Mathews and my friend Pamela Anderson in Monte Carlo, I discovered a little blackbird trapped in the room. I gently picked up the tiny bird, brought him to the balcony and set him free.

Not all birds are that lucky. Tens of thousands of parrots and other birds are captured from their native homes and exported to other countries every year. Because the exportation of captured parrots is illegal, they are smuggled out in cramped containers-sometimes stuffed into socks, shoes, small boxes or even toilet paper rolls. It’s no surprise that half of these birds die before ever reaching a new shore.

In the wild, these sociable birds preen each other, fly together, play and share egg-incubation duties. They are never alone, and if separated even for a moment, they call wildly to their flock mates. Many species of birds mate for life and share parenting tasks. This life is a far cry from what most birds endure in captivity, where they are usually kept in a cage all alone, sometimes for decades. Denied companionship and the ability to fly, they can become so neurotic and self-destructive [that] they will pull out their own feathers.

Exotic birds are suffering and dying in droves simply so that people can have a ‘conversation piece’ in the living room. The only way to shut down the cruel bird trade is to stop buying and caging birds.

A few days ago, I saw some birds playing on the edge of the lake at Udaipur. They were swooping down and skimming the surface of the lake before flying up again in glee, and I thought to myself that this freedom is the essence of a bird. It made me sad to think of all the birds who are denied this freedom.

Please, let’s empty the cages. Jaanvaron ko Aazadi Deejiye. (May all animals be free.)

-Marcus Schenkenberg, Mumbai, July 2003