Every year, more than a million pigeons die while competing in Taiwan’s controversial pigeon sea races, a series of grueling events in which young birds are shipped far out to sea, released in the middle of nowhere and forced to fly home. According to several reports from animal rights organizations, less than 1% of them make it back to land.
The small island of Taiwan hosts more pigeon racing events than any other country in the world. A reported 500,000 Taiwanese race pigeons every year, competing for billions of New Taiwan dollars in prize money. Pigeon racing is such a big business that the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology once introduced an optional course on it, which proved very popular with both young and old pigeon racers. However, important notions taught during this course, like injury prevention and the use of performance enhancing drugs fly out the window during Taiwan’s seasonal sea races.