35 Charged in Pigeon-Racing Gambling Ring; Nearly $570K in Profits to Be Confiscated

PETA Exposé Prompts Formal Charges for Illegal Gambling on Deadly Races

For Immediate Release:
August 4, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Taiwan – After a PETA investigation revealed bird death rates as high as 99 percent during Taiwanese pigeon races as well as illegal gambling, the group filed a complaint with Taiwan authorities. The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office investigated the Kaohsiung Zhong Zheng pigeon-racing club and prosecuted three club officials and 32 alleged pigeon racers and applied for the confiscation of nearly $570,000 in illegal gambling funds.

Those charged for gambling crimes include the president, secretary, and bookkeeper of the club, who were prosecuted for organizing the club’s winter pigeon-race series, during which thousands of pigeons are crammed into crates, loaded onto a cargo ship, and released up to 320 kilometers off shore. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—revealed that, during these races, many birds are swept underwater by waves and drown. Others fall victim to extreme weather, raptors, electric lines, foul play, and exhaustion. Those who return but finish out of the money are typically killed by having their necks broken.

“PETA’s exposé of this cruel blood sport revealed that pigeons pay with their lives for illegal gamblers’ high-stakes bets,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “These charges prove that this violent and cruel industry’s days are numbered.”

The Taiwanese authorities’ actions come in the midst of an international crackdown on illegal pigeon racing. After a PETA investigation of the American Racing Pigeon Union—the largest pigeon-racing organization in the U.S.—organizers pleaded no contest to charges of violating felony gambling laws.

Broadcast-quality footage is available for download here. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind