One step closer to the grave for PETA or ‘just another brick in the wall’!   2 comments

Peta or pigeon racing. I know which one I would send to the cemetery.

Peta or pigeon racing. I know which one I would send to the cemetery!!

Yesterday, I was viewing Peta’s YouTube video ‘Graveyard Races’ and I happened to ask my young daughters about it. They answered me that “it sounded like a young Queen’s voice”. I can’t help wondering if that is intentional by PETA and I find it quite distasteful. What do you think readers?

It is public knowledge that PETA wish to shutdown pigeon racing worldwide. However, all I think they will achieve is to be made to look stupid again. There are many online commentaries about PETA, (if you have time to view them then I suggest you try YouTube). It seems many in PETA’s country of origin, i.e. America, have something to say about PETA.

There is even what some describe as a parody PETA site both in website form and on Facebook viz P.E.T.A. which they say stands for ‘people eating tasty animals’. I guess some might say that’s in your face, but isn’t that what PETA appears to be doing at times in their campaigns? PETA’s FAQ’s informs us that they do this since PETA’s advertising budget is limited?

Free speech is a great thing but it is important to do your best to get the facts right!

PETA started the ball rolling against racing pigeons some time ago and their futile attempts so far include protesting outside Mike Tyson’s Las Vegas home in 2008 prior to the screening of the great series, ‘Taking on Tyson’ by Animal Planet. They achieved nothing there apart from giving the appearance of being stupid in my opinion. I thought that the six part show was great. Mike and the boys were excellent ambassadors for pigeon racing and gave us something to aim for i.e. the comradery and love between the fanciers and the love for their pigeons, which we all know as pigeon fanciers are extensions of our family.

Did you watch the ‘Taking on Tyson’ series by Animal Planet and what did you think of it? Please take some time to comment below.

Moving on now to the Graveyard video and PETA’s upfront challenge to the Queen:  For those of you who didn’t know, the Queen of England i.e. her majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second has Royal Lofts on Sandringham Estate containing around 250 racing pigeons. Her Majesty is also the patron of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) in England. Her birds regularly take part in UK races, and she has had racing pigeons since she was a child.

The video starts with what we are told is release footage of the Fougeres Young Bird National race on September 1st 2012 from France to English lofts. Its title is Graveyard Races-A Peta Undercover Investigation.

5560 birds were released and PETA assert that only 622 returned and thus allege that 90% of the birds were lost including all of the Queen’s birds. Incidentally her Royal Lofts only sent four racing pigeons and some may’ve homed in after the race closed. PETA’s assertion of course is rubbish and misguided and the figures PETA is using simply don’t contain the full result of all the pigeons returning in race time, as the official result didn’t contain all the pigeons timed in. Additionally, most fanciers using the non electronic system don’t clock all their returning birds. Electronic clocks may also be disconnected from their power source and pigeons returning thereafter, even though in race time, have not been recorded.

Furthermore, in any pigeon race from anywhere, pigeons often return home after the race is closed. I had one hen turn up almost a year later from a long distance race. A friend had one turn up three years later from the same racepoint and usually, many turn up in the weeks following the race. It is a fallacy that most pigeons can’t find some food in the wild of some description.

Moving on now to a point PETA makes in this video i.e. ‘particularly for young birds crossing the Channel for the first time is extremely daunting’. This is partly true, if not misconstrued. The fact is that pigeons need to learn to cross the water and some birds are more innately gifted to do this than others. Pigeons do not only orientate by sight, they feel their way home including over bodies of water. Some pigeons simply aren’t as gifted and, to coin a PETA type of cliche, they ‘fly to freedom’ by, in this case, perhaps staying in France.

Additionally, to assert that pigeons always fly close to the water’s surface is a load of crock. This happens mainly in headwinds, particularly strong ones and if the liberator has done their job right the pigeons will still be being looked after in the shelter of the pigeon transporter!

Just to clear that up for the inexperienced flier or non pigeon fancier reading this. For example, in the case of a tail wind i.e. one assisting the pigeons across the body of water, the pigeons circle high and then when enough of them have orientated to give the flock confidence they cross and they can cross very high and at great speeds. Please get your facts right PETA, you are being made to look ignorant here!

Next, they move onto a clip from a National Geographic programme which Taiwanese TV makers filmed after a release of pigeons at sea in Taiwan over a decade ago. These pigeons have just come off the boat after it lurched. Many thousands of pigeons were let go from the boat at that time and some subsequently landed in the sea.

This is a snippet of a video on YouTube. It isn’t U.K. pigeons and it appears that PETA is trying to make out that these are ‘flown out’ or ‘tied up’ pigeons that can’t fly anymore. To me it’s deceitful and as soon as I saw this segment I knew straight away where it was from. Good try PETA, be a bit more honest next time!

Pigeon racing in Taiwan is completely different than other parts of the world; we don’t let pigeons go at sea in the western world. In Taiwan they do it to help stop cheating. Look at YouTube and search ‘Racing Pigeon in Taiwan by English version’ for more of a picture of Taiwanese pigeon racing. I’ve also been to Taiwan several times so I know the full situation.

Personally, I would refute the statement that flying over water is more of a risk than flying over land. There are no power lines, TV aerials or chimneys over water for one. There are also no birds of prey i.e. raptors!

Perhaps racing pigeons flying over the English Channel are  a lot safer than PETA would have any persons gullible enough in the public to believe! There are no raptors out to sea such as the peregrine whereas there are many on land. These raptors have been having devastating effects on pigeon racing in the UK in recent years. It is not so much the number that they kill, but that they cause the racing flocks to split up and scatter all over the place. Many become disoriented and lost as a result, especially young inexperienced racing pigeons.

The main thing, whether it be races with or without a water crossing, is that the liberators do their job right and if in doubt wait until conditions are right for a good race, i.e. delaying the release until the following day or days if necessary.

However, I am confident that the racing pigeon organisations particularly in the western world have protocols in place to protect the welfare of all the racing pigeons they both transport and liberate.

PETA’s next line of attack in this video is to degrade pigeon racers even more by implying we are sending pigeons away to races just for a bit of fun and a flutter. I do not agree with this.

Our pigeons are extensions of our families. There is a strong bond between the fancier and their pigeons. Orientating back home to their respective lofts in a race is what the pigeons do naturally. They grow to love it. They are very well cared for. They have a much better life than the ‘street pigeons’ that have to scavenge for food daily and find shelter sometimes in very bitter winters.

The fact that pigeons won medals in World War II last century e.g. pigeons won the Dickens medal for bravery (a Victoria cross pigeon equivalent), is all the more reason to preserve the keeping of racing pigeons in honour of all the gutsy pigeons that came back to their lofts shot up. Cher Ami comes to mind and I clearly remember being amazed to hear the account of this pigeon as a young boy.

Cher Ami delivered 12 important messages during WWI. Cher Ami was shot through the breast and returned with a message capsule dangling from the ligaments of one of his legs. The message was from the “Lost Battalion” that had been isolated from other American forces. Just a few hours after the message was received, 194 survivors out of the 550 were again safe because of Cher Ami’s heroism.

While I think of it, if the world does experience widespread telecommunication and internet breakdown in the future, who knows, we might just need the humble pigeon again to carry messages. Don’t count on always being able to communicate so freely in this age of internet hackers and military use of cyberspace. Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 comes to mind here, they downed Georgia’s internal and external communication as they launched the offensive.

Re the assertion that ‘the punters just having a flutter’. In many parts of the world today there is very little money in pigeon racing. I for one, as a person with a major health disability, enjoy the challenge of conditioning my birds for racing and the breeding side I enjoy even more i.e. the attempt to breed better pigeons just as many livestock breeders enjoy such past times.

For myself personally to be totally frank, I might not be alive without the pigeons. I lived in the back of a lady’s garage for seven years from 1990 and the pigeons gave me both solace and enjoyment as a very sick, single man. I am married and have two girls now, 11 and 12 about to turn 13. If I’d chucked the towel in, as many do with chronic illnesses, then they wouldn’t have the enjoyment of their lives and the world would be a poorer place.

We need to promote the sport more amongst those with infirmities around the world as I believe caring for animals or birds is better than anything else to keep one’s head above water when one has a chronic health problem.

So I have much reason to defend the sport. I know the situation over in England in regard to liberations is a very good one. They try very hard to get it right!

There are articles on U.K. liberations on this site for those who wish to read them under the archive category of  U.k. news items. These are articles by Keith Mott and Terry Williams.

PETA have got themselves into this fight starting with a dispute against their own USA pigeon racers and are currently really stirring it up. PETA are against some aspects of keeping companion animals and racing pigeons are classed as companion animals which we farm in my opinion.

PETA are against a lot of things including eating meat. I have clear memories of teenage girls not looking after themselves when I was a teenager by abstaining from meat products. PETA are free to promote veganism and the rest of us that eat meat can enjoy it and be thankful that the world is changing in its animal husbandry methods e.g. the trend towards organic free range chickens and eggs.

I’ll admit that by eating a nice roast chicken that I may deprive it of a full and long life. Will vegetarian PETA members admit that they deprive many vegetables of a full and reproductive life e.g. baby corn in the can and baby carrots come to mind here!

PETA are against many things and I encourage you to read up on them on the net and if you feel strongly enough about the things they say, then perhaps you could write your opinion on the net, even if it is just commenting on this site. There are a lot of YouTube videos mainly by young people against PETA’s ideas and activities. Place a comment on the site and I’ll email you the links if you like without posting your comment.

We should also tell you about the alleged very high percentage of animals that PETA have euthanized in the past at its animal shelters in Virginia. Shouldn’t they be relocating many of those animals that they put down to other places in America to give them the long and full life they deserve?

Returning to the Graveyard video: The clip of the guy holding three dead pigeons is likely from an International Barcelona liberation involving tens of thousands of pigeons during which some pigeons have been unlucky and flown into something and been traumatised leading to death.

I cannot comment on how many pigeons are left at the seasons end in the U.K. but I can comment on my own lofts losses. Young birds 2012 I lost 8% of the team during racing and the same amount in the Old Bird season. Our longest race for me is Invercargill (750 miles) through a lower North Island breaking point. We also fly Timaru (560 miles) and Christchurch (450 miles) and Ward (330 miles) to my loft. So an 8% loss is quite acceptable and in the natural world a lot more animals and birds over the course of a year become statistics e.g. the Mara River Wildebeest crossing and the migration of birds e.g. the Bar-tailed Godwit from the Arctic to New Zealand and back again within the year, some flying to New Zealand as young as three months old and some flying direct, perhaps non-stop!!

One female called “E7” on 29 August 2007 flew non-stop from Western Alaska to New Zealand, setting a new known flight record of 11,680 kilometres.

I will add that if any of the pigeons lost last year in Old Birds return then I will keep them. The pigeon mentioned earlier which returned from a 450 mile race a year later with a damaged wing I still have! However, for those fliers that cull pigeons, that is their choice. I suffer much and the sicker I have become the softer I get because the pigeons didn’t ask to be born. I know many fanciers personally who are on the ‘same page’ as myself pigeon welfare wise.

On that note, would any of the worldwide PETA branches be willing to find homes for fanciers’ cull pigeons around the world, as it is difficult to find loving homes for these pigeons. The average fancier shouldn’t be ‘bagged’ by PETA because they farm racing pigeons and want the best possible performers, whether for racing or breeding! Perhaps rehoming racing pigeons whose racing careers are over to loving homes is a policy which PETA could in the future adopt to show how much they care for pigeons.

Following the video again, we do need to be careful with our liberations especially with the global warming phenomena affecting the world’s weather. As I mentioned earlier, the U.K. set up for liberations is up with the times. They are very well organised and Stewart Wardrop of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association has written a very sincere letter as a public statement and press release to address PETA’s allegations.

Now back to PETA’s video: PETA has a swipe at the Barcelona International race which U.K. pigeons can participate in. Pigeons from Europe and the U.K. are very carefully prepared for these races. No stone is ‘left unturned’ in the preparation of racing pigeons for these long distance race events. Most fliers will only send pigeons to these races that they think have a high chance of navigating the distance.

Of course there are hazards, just like there are for wild birds and for the pigeon it is the natural thing to fly home. Hazards for any birds may include power lines, TV aerials, chimneys, birds of prey, people who indiscriminately shoot birds, predators such as cats e.t.c. at night if the pigeon doesn’t home on the day.

I personally don’t think there is a great risk of the pigeons perishing at sea if the flight is a very long one, e.g. Barcelona. Pigeons are highly intelligent and the UK pigeon is more likely to find some shelter e.g. in France and move on in the early hours the next day. Good liberators wait for forecasts of good settled weather for a number of days for all the pigeons entered from the different countries, such as for the International Barcelona race. A lot of thought and weather observation and ringing along the line of flight is done for pigeon racing all around the world.

Back to the video: Only some pigeon fanciers refer to pigeons that haven’t featured in their racing as ‘rubbish’, That is a pigeon fancier slang term used by some. However, if pigeon fanciers wish to cull a high percentage of their racers at the season’s end i.e. as yearlings or two year olds, then that is their choice; but they need to cull them within the laws of their own country. The clip in the video of the chap pulling the head off a pigeon in a bag is not the typical way that fanciers cull their pigeons. This guy did a messy job, I’d agree with that!

Looking at things logically, how does a fancier culling pigeons and perhaps making a tasty dish with them differ from a vegan growing or buying baby carrots for their consumption. Both the pigeon and vegetable have been robbed of a long life! If I had a choice between being a baby carrot or a baby sweet corn cob, the later in a can, or a racing pigeon, I’d choose to be a racing pigeon!

PETA, you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree with the racing pigeon fraternity in America and the U.K. Tidy up your own backyard and re-home more of those animals that you’ve been euthanizing, they can’t all be suffering or behaving so badly that they need to be put down!

There’s a saying that ‘you need to choose your battles wisely’. Pick the ones you can win PETA. Pigeon racing is capable of regulating itself without PETA’s interference.

Finally, I can see clearly that PETA has a concern for animals. But I think once again you are using very ‘controversial media tactics’ and you clearly state this in your site’s FAQ category. Is the public really supposed to assume that this is one of your preferred ‘modus operandi’s’ and just to save advertising money?? I think that’s a bit lame and the other reason could be to provoke.

PETA, don’t you think that working together with both the respected racing pigeon organisations throughout the world and other perhaps even more successful animal welfare agencies (maybe not in the number of members PETA has but perhaps in animal rehoming figures) is a much wiser path for PETA to take. That is what I would do if I was a ‘mover or shaker’ in the PETA organisation.

Any questions or right of reply from you PETA can be emailed to me directly at or through my site I’d love to hear from you!

A very similar article to this one is available to be used for free on any internet site or any other public forum on request to myself.

Posted April 7, 2013 by ferguselley in Food for thought, U.k. news items

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2 responses to “One step closer to the grave for PETA or ‘just another brick in the wall’!

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  1. PETA does not have a concern for animals. They are after money, they are after attention and they are evil. Yes, evil. I’ve read so much about what they do to animals – the ones they “rescue” and the ones that have nothing to do with them at all. An animal that gets PETA’s attention often just has one destiny: DEATH. And that’s what they call “ethical”? They get animals and then kill them even though those animals could have had a good and long life with the right owner? They go to horse and dog races and “free” the animals there, just so that they can be killed in car traffic (freeing race horses in the middle of a big city really is a dumb idea, isn’t t?).
    They use the money they get from naive people to buy a huge freezer just so they can store the bodies of the animals they have killed. I wonder whether people would still donate to PETA if they knew what PETA are really about.
    Also, take the example of what they did with the Hobbit. They screwed the facts around until there was hardly any more truth behind it. They should all be politicians and leave the animal care to people who really care.

    Calling PETA stupid is actually quite nice of you, it’s a bit of an understatement I would say.

  2. Very nice to here from you Wairuanor. Thank you for expressing your opinion!

    Freedom of speech is a very good thing indeed.

    Seeing that I am the moderator of this blog, just a few pointers for all those taking the time to read the comments section of this blog.

    We can see that you have very strong feelings about PETA.

    I wouldn’t say that “PETA does not have a concern for animals”. Peta may appear all bad to you, but I’m sure that’s not the actual case.

    I am currently researching them and plan to write many blogs on them in the weeks/months ahead, the good and the not so good and as in the case of the pigeon racing ‘Graveyard video’, very bad and misinformed i.e. they “appear to be stupid” in this case in places.

    However their controversial advertising methods and how they attack different organisations are not that dissimilar to the “Spotted hyena” and less like something tame like vegetarian ‘tofu”.

    I do not mean to be rude about the PETA organisation in this case. It’s just that their subtle undercover infiltration of a quietly grazing herd of Wildebeest for example i.e. nonchalantly, then maybe, “all in for the kill!”

    Speaking of tofu, you mention this massive walk in freezer for especially dead dogs and cats and I too have seen the online photos. I wonder if when it’s not too fill that workers (who I presume are all “vegan”) store such things as tofu.

    I believe that freezing tofu actually improves it by removing excess moisture, making the tofu more able to soak up marinades or sauces in a stir-fry dish.

    We shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of tofu i.e. soya bean curd. viz

    Tofu has a low calorie count, relatively large amounts of protein, and little fat. It is high in iron and may also be high in calcium and/or magnesium.

    I eat tofu occasionally. But the ‘vegan’ diet doesn’t suit my Chronic health situation, I’ve been there, done that. After all, we are omnivores and likely descend from ‘hunter gatherers’. Eating meat is not a crime, but ‘each to their own”.

    Do you really think that they are a money hungry organisation and attention seeking? It sounds like you are saying that these factors come before the animals, surely not? Do you have evidence of this i.e. solid, or is it more a “gut” feeling?

    I wouldn’t say that PETA is prone to being anymore evil than any of us can be!

    Yes, I agree that if animals are euthanised i.e. killed humanely (unless someone can’t get the vein and then its a chest shot and those barbituates sting believe me!), then in some cases for example, an animal not coming up to adoption criteria, then these animals are “executed”, even though perhaps they don’t deserve to be.

    However many animal rescue shelters euthanise healthy animals in some cases also. There is an argument that there are too many pets in USA. I’ll have to look into that in future blogs and spell out the facts correctly.

    Have you looked at PETA’s site lately? Ingrid E. Newkirk, the PETA President and co-founder in 1980 may be able to offer PETA’s side of things there.

    You write about PETA representatives freeing race horses in the middle of a big city and horse deaths resulting, where was that? Perhaps my readers would be interested in that assertion.

    Do you really think that most people that donate to PETA are naive? How would we know other than that animal welfare issues tug at most animal lovers “heart strings” and hence their wallet.

    What did PETA actually do with the Hobbit? Can you elaborate? We can see you feel very strongly about this.

    Re politicians, remember these types of movements are political, they have to be! Some of us would like to see them become more down to earth and perhaps walk the middle of the road more and then they might attract more ‘deep thinking’ people.

    After all, it is a very noble thing to love animals and stick up for there rights, but we mustn’t get carried away with it and throw the baby out with the bath water!

    PETA as a body needs to show the world not only it’s commitment to loving animals and not abusing them but also it’s commitment to loving humans and not abusing them as well.

    After all, an ancient book says “A vegetarian meal served with love is better than a big, thick steak with a plateful of animosity” (ISV).

    I am convinced that it is only love that will bring all the different factions of animal lovers in this world together.


    Well thanks for commenting and sorry its a long one. As I said, I am researching PETA currently. We need to be fair to them, as remember, “Innocent until proven guilty”, viz they have rights too and are a pretty big group and might get upset if we are overzealous.

    Cheers, fergie.

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