Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

‘Too fat to fly’: Obese Gulf seagulls grounded after gorging on throwaway fast food

Birds now shun fish in the sea, needing only ‘juice and desserts’, officials complain

Jane Dalton
Wednesday 17 February 2021 23:44 GMT
Comments
Leer en Español

Seagulls in Bahrain have been labelled too fat to fly because they are eating so much discarded human food.

The birds gorge themselves on trays of machboos, the national dish of the Gulf kingdom, consisting of spicy chicken and rice cooked in oil.

Officials say the gulls have become so used to it that they now shun their natural feeding ground – the sea.

In Britain, discarded human food has drawn seagulls more inland, where they commonly dine on fast food dropped outdoors.

Six years ago researchers at the University of Liverpool found the birds were piling on the pounds after eating too many takeaways. The study said it could lead to their developing health problems.

Abdullah Al Qubaisi, chairman of Bahrain’s northern municipal council’s technical committee, said fat seagulls staggering around the streets were “bringing down the reputation of respectable neighbourhoods”.

Calling for a crackdown on improper disposal of food, he said: “The seagulls are no longer flying because they are so overweight. We can see them walking on the ground – it’s like they just left work and came home for lunch.

“We only ever see them feeding on leftover meals such as machboos and other traditional dishes.

“All that is left to do for these birds is to set them up with a jug of juice and a range of desserts,” he told Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News.

Technically, there is no such bird as a seagull, but herring gulls, common gulls, black-backed gulls and black-headed gulls are all often called seagulls.

Vets have warned the popularity on Instagram of photos of fat pets is encouraging owners to overfeed their animals, endangering their health.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in