We, the undersigned, were shocked to learn that every year, the royal loft at Sandringham sends pigeons to their deaths in long and dangerous races in which many – often most – perish.
Footage from a PETA US investigation into the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race reveals that pigeons entered into the competition die of diseases that spread through the quarantine loft, that sick birds are still forced to race, and that in the main race, pigeons are forced to fly up to 370 miles under the sweltering South African sun. Out of the 42 birds Your Majesty sent to the event in the last six years, only five finished alive. Those who did not die of disease in quarantine likely succumbed to exhaustion, attacks by predators, dehydration, or starvation during the races.
Pigeons, also known as "rock doves", are intelligent, gentle, loyal birds. They have honourably served the military, delivering vital messages in the most dangerous of conditions. This has earned them more Dickin Medals (animals' Victoria Cross) than any other species. Exploiting their extraordinary homing abilities for entertainment or bragging rights is inhumane. This tradition isn't a sport – it's cruelty to animals.
We respectfully urge you to end your patronage of all pigeon races and associated organisations and to turn the Sandringham pigeon-breeding mill into a sanctuary where lost, injured, and unwanted pigeons can spend the rest of their lives in peace.