This Supposedly Romantic Gesture Is Actually Horrible for Animals

Posted by on March 29, 2016 | Permalink

Have you ever thought about where doves go after they’re released at weddings, funerals and other events?


They may look pretty when they fly up into the air, perhaps to the sound of champagne corks popping or boozy cheers from party guests, but what happens to these birds next is often less than romantic.

Left to fend for themselves in the wild, these domesticated birds – who have often been purchased cheaply online – may starve to death, be attacked and killed by larger birds, or die from cold or exhaustion. And the doves who manage to survive are causing an imbalance in local ecosystems, according to the RSPB, which has a negative knock-on effect on populations of endangered wild birds, who must compete with them for food.

Even doves who have been trained to navigate back to their roost after being released don’t have a good time. For these gentle, timid animals, being constantly hired out and transported to events, then kept in dark cages for hours at a time until the party hosts decide it’s time for them to “perform”, is a stressful and bewildering experience.

A similar trend of releasing butterflies also, predictably, usually ends with most of the insects dying within hours or even minutes. And some butterflies purchased on the Internet may actually be tropical species, which are illegal to set free in Britain and can lead to the spread of disease among native populations.

Exploiting animals in this way is a deeply ironic way to try to symbolise joy, love, peace or freedom. If you know anyone who’s planning their big day or another special occasion, please encourage them to leave animals out of their celebrations.