Complaint Filed After First-Ever Pigeon-Racing Investigation in Taiwan Reveals More Than a Million Dead Birds and Rampant Illegal Gambling
For Immediate Release:
June 16, 2014
Taipei — “Drowning pigeons” will greet officials and officers at the National Police Agency (NPA) as they return from lunch on Tuesday. The activists, clad in elaborate bird costumes and struggling to stay afloat in the “ocean,” will protest outside the NPA headquarters to urge the government to investigate the lucrative pigeon-racing industry. PETA U.S. filed a complaint with the NPA over apparent violations of gambling and animal-protection laws following a five-month undercover investigation that revealed a multibillion-dollar illegal gambling industry, a grueling system of races over the open ocean, and the highest racing death rates in the world.
When: Tuesday, June 17, 2 p.m.
Where: Outside the headquarters of the National Police Agency, No. 7, Sec. 1, Zhongxiao E. Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Pigeons 6 months of age and younger are shipped out to sea and forced to try to fly back to their home lofts over a series of seven weekly races. PETA U.S. investigators attended and filmed major races in which pigeons were released from boats hundreds of kilometers out to sea. Survival 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. Birds 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.
Investigators documented that top officials at the largest racing club in Taiwan admitted to sponsoring illegal gambling and misrepresenting the amount of money at stake. A top racer confirmed that clubs conceal profits as well as the involvement of top government officials. 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 that PETA U.S. investigated, when the pigeons were released in typhoon-like conditions, about 85 percent of them failed to return, and they are presumed to have died. The NPA needs to investigate these massacres and prosecute those involved.”
The complaint—as well as photographs from the investigation—is available upon request. Broadcast-quality footage is available here.
For more information, please visit PETAAsiaPacific.com.