More Than A Million Dead Birds, Rampant Illegal Gambling Revealed In First-Ever Pigeon-Racing Expose

PETA U.S. Files Complaint With Taiwanese Government Over Apparent Violations of Gambling and Animal-Protection Laws

For Immediate Release:

May 30, 2014

Taipei — A five-month People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) U.S. undercover investigation into Taiwanese pigeon racing has uncovered a multibillion-dollar illegal gambling industry, a grueling system of races over the open ocean, and the highest racing death rates in the world. Pigeons less than a year old are shipped out to sea and forced to try to fly back to their home lofts over a series of seven weekly races. Success rates of less than 1 percent per series are common—most birds drown during the trials or have their necks snapped by their owners if they don’t return within qualifying time.

Races often prove fatal for the pigeons, who are forced to fly with untreated injuries through lashing rainstorms. Investigators captured video footage of a single race in which tens of thousands of these highly intelligent birds likely died in a matter of hours in typhoon-strength winds.

PETA U.S. investigators recorded top officials at the largest racing club in Taiwan admitting to sponsoring illegal gambling and misrepresenting the amount of money at stake. A top racer confirmed that clubs conceal profits and the involvement of top government officials. Investigators also attended and filmed major races in which pigeons were released from boats hundreds of kilometers out to sea. Racing participants pay entrance fees to the club and wager millions more, and the high stakes have prompted thefts, extortion, and doping.

“Taiwan’s pigeon racing industry is the most extreme, most deadly, and most crime-ridden in the world,” says Jason Baker, Vice President of PETA Asia. “In one race PETA U.S. investigated, when the pigeons were released in typhoon-like conditions, about 85 percent of them failed to return and are presumed to have perished. These aren’t races—they’re massacres.”

PETA U.S.’ legal representatives filed a complaint with Taiwan’s National Police Agency asking for an immediate investigation into the apparent violations of gambling and animal-protection laws. Previous government raids to collect taxes from clubs on unpaid earnings from races have not resulted in substantive reform.

The complaintas well as photographs from the investigation—is available upon request. Broadcast quality footage is available here. For more information, please visit