Pigeon Racing: The Deadliest Marathons

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

Pigeon racingPigeons suffer immeasurably in the horrific world of pigeon racing, where they serve only as commodities for humans’ pleasure and greed. Pigeon racing happens all around the globe, and this deadly “sport” is gaining popularity throughout Asia, especially in China, where a rapidly growing elite is fueling the demand. In early 2012, a Chinese man broke records when he paid more than USD$300,000 for one “pedigree” racing bird. It is estimated that 300,000 people in China are involved in pigeon racing.

Pigeon racing is unimaginably torturous. Training often involves separating pigeons from their lifelong mates, eggs, or hatchlings. This is done to increase the racing birds’ desire to return home and thereby win races. Some competitions are restricted to birds under the age of 1 year in order to bring more “excitement” to the race.

One such race in South Africa pays a $1 million prize and draws birds from around the world, many of whom will not be able to complete the race. Pigeons are forced to race in all weather conditions. They fly into power lines, are attacked by predators, and can easily become lost or exhausted, as they are bred in captivity and don’t know how to find food, water, or shelter on their own. Many races can be up to 1,000 kilometers long and sometimes involve ocean crossings, making it impossible for pigeons to rest if they get tired, lost, or injured.

Pigeons used for racing are often given performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids, cocaine, and morphine. “Culling,” or rather killing, is common. Bloodlines and performance mean everything, and pigeon racers see no reason to keep birds who aren’t profitable. Common killing methods include breaking or wringing birds’ necks, pulling their heads off, suffocating them, or selling them for slaughter.

Pigeons are known for their intelligence, and they have demonstrated a cognitive ability superior to that of a 3-year-old human child. They can also recognize themselves in a mirror—which has been documented in only a few species, including dolphins and elephants—as well as on video, even with a five- to seven-second delay. Like all animals, these intelligent birds deserve to live their lives for their own purposes.

Help us put an end to this barbaric “sport”: Don’t participate in pigeon racing, and please spread the word about why pigeons should be free.

Posted by Edwina Baier