Just weeks shy of the coronation ceremony and coinciding with the start of pigeon racing season, PETA has sent a letter to King Charles urging His Majesty to cut ties with the cruel races and to turn the royal loft into a sanctuary for lost, injured, and unwanted birds.
The plea for pigeons follows the king’s recent decision to ban foie gras from royal residences – a great victory for birds of another species, which PETA thinks sets a precedent for more progress.
The Royal Loft has a record of entering pigeons into cruel races. One race from France to Sandringham covers over 600 miles and includes a harrowing portion across the English Channel, known as “the graveyard” by pigeon fanciers because so many birds die trying to cross it to get home whilst completely exhausted.
A PETA US investigation into another race the royal family enters pigeons into, the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race (SAMDPR), revealed that most of the birds who start the race don’t live to see the finish line. In recent years, just five of the 42 pigeons the royal household sent to South Africa for this race survived. The industry typically kills any surviving birds who are not winners.
Most of the winning birds are auctioned off to become what fanciers rightly call “prisoners” – to be locked up for the remainder of their lives, be used for breeding, and never fly free again.
Exhaustion, Dehydration, and Starvation
Did you know that pigeons have their own unique culture, form life-long partnerships, and are nurturing parents who produce crop milk for their young? They display remarkable intelligence and self-awareness and have been distinguished with more medals for bravery than any other animal for their role in saving the lives of civilians and members of the armed forces during World War II and subsequent conflicts.
Despite their amazing qualities, pigeons are still used and abused every day. Those forced to take part in the SAMDPR and other races undergo enormous suffering. Flying in intense heat, facing extreme weather conditions, and experiencing exhaustion, dehydration, and starvation along the way, many will never live to see the finish line.
How You Can Help Pigeons
Please contact Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Thérèse Coffey and ask that she take action to prevent more pigeons from suffering in cross-Channel races.