Gateshead Schools Urged by PETA to Show Pigeon Racing Reality

Gateshead Schools Urged by PETA to Show Pigeon Racing Reality

Gateshead – Following the distribution of a pigeon racer’s new children’s book to local schools – featuring the story of a real pigeon, Bob, who was used for racing and was later found underweight and covered in oil 4,000 miles from home – PETA fired off a letter urging primary schools in the North East to show students a PETA US exposé of the UK pigeon racing industry, in which hundreds of thousands of pigeons become injured or die prematurely after being forced to fly up to 900 miles home in deadly cross-Channel races.

“Romanticising his story and that of other raced pigeons is misleading. [Pigeons] do not want to be handled and banded, and they don’t relish long, arduous, hazardous journeys back to a cage or loft,” writes PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “Pigeons are intelligent, gentle, and loyal birds …. Abusing these sensitive animals and their impressive homing abilities for entertainment is cruel.”

The PETA US investigation reveals that birds forced to race face mass suffering and death – in one race, more than 90% of the pigeons did not return – with many birds succumbing to storms, exhaustion, disorientation, starvation, predation, and collisions with power lines. Others, like Bob, get lost, though most will never find their way home. Tragically, many die close to home while flying across the Channel. So many birds lose their lives there that the industry has nicknamed it the “graveyard”. Pigeons who survive against the odds and return to their lofts are often not deemed valuable enough for future races or breeding, so they are killed by gassing, drowning, or neck-breaking. Valuable birds are kept as “prisoners”, repeatedly used for breeding and likely never to fly free again.

“We would be happy to share our investigations into the pigeon racing industry to screen at your school instead, to show the children what really happens to birds like Bob and why we should all respect and protect pigeons, not exploit them and risk their death for personal gain,” concludes Werner.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]