updated 4/14/2005 2:43:03 PM ET 2005-04-14T18:43:03

Petco Animal Supplies Inc. said Tuesday it will stop selling large birds in a deal with an animal rights group, which agreed to end its boycott of the pet supply chain.

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Amazon and African grey parrots, cockatoos and macaws will no longer be sold at Petco stores once the company runs through its existing stock. Petco will continue selling smaller and medium-sized birds, such as canaries, finches, parakeets, cockatiels and conures.

“We recognize that most of our bird customers are what we would call ’beginning hobbyists.’ Large birds are not necessarily appropriate for these individuals due to their long lifespan, size and care requirements,” Bruce Hall, Petco’s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

San Diego-based Petco, the country’s No. 2 pet supply chain with 730 stores, also agreed to encourage adoption of homeless birds from shelters and to separate mice and rats by gender to prevent them from breeding.

In return, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals agreed to end demonstrations outside Petco stores and take down its anti-Petco Web site. The Norfolk, Va.-based organization began attacking the company in January 2003 for what PETA called Petco’s pattern of mishandling pets for sale.

“We’d be happier if all birds weren’t sold, but this is a precedent-setting action,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, a PETA spokeswoman. “It is a victory for the birds for certain.”

Large parrots can easily outlive their adult owners, said Nachminovitch, who considers parrots to be wild animals and unsuitable pets. Wild and escaped parrots are known to flock noisily in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities.

Last year, Petco paid more than $900,000 to settle two lawsuits that accused the company of mistreating animals and overcharging customers. A complaint by PETA to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that calls on Petco to disclose revenue and inventory figures of pet sales remains pending.

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