PETA buys three racing pigeons from King Charles, calling pigeon racing “cruel”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it has purchased three racing pigeons from England’s king after failing to get the monarch to end his association with pigeon racing.

The animal rights group says long-distance races have too high a casualty rate.

The campaigners say long-distance races have too high a casualty rate.

In response, a Sandringham spokesperson said its pigeon loft “adheres to all standards and regulations required.”

And Chris Sutton, chief executive of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, said: “We totally oppose the statement that pigeon racing is a cruel sport.”

Mr Sutton, head of the body that governs the sport in the UK, added: “We recognise that racing pigeons are intelligent birds and always prioritise their health and wellbeing.”

But the animal-welfare campaigners say that pigeon racing is an “often fatal pastime” for the birds – and that they bought the pigeons at auction “to spare the birds further suffering”.

In their letter to King Charles, they say the pigeons they bought are now “getting the royal treatment” in a sanctuary for birds in Wales.

In particular, they criticise pigeon races that cross the English Channel, claiming these “kind and loyal animals” are forced to take part in exhausting, disorientating flights, in which many do not survive.

The letter to the King says the three retired pigeons have been renamed “Vera, Cliff, and Dover in honour of the late Dame Vera Lynn”, the singer who in later life became an opponent of pigeon racing.

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