PETA Slams Tyson’s Pigeon Show

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Audubon‘s Alisa Opar reports that PETA is (predictably) up in arms over former boxing champion Mike Tyson’s latest gig: Taking on Tyson, a show about pigeon racing on Animal Planet. I don’t always see eye to eye with PETA, but in this case I think they’re right. Audubon reported in a recent issue that “roller” pigeons—the kind of bird Tyson competes with—are bred for a “genetic seizure-like disorder” that causes them to tumble to the ground, sometimes dying on impact. And the pigeons aren’t the sport’s only victims. Hawks and other birds of prey are harmed, too:

When their pigeons start doing their thing, birds of prey see them for exactly what they are—genetic invalids ripe for plucking. As Tony Chavarria, owner and publisher of the Birmingham Roller Pigeon Discussion Board (, perceptively notes, “Many fanciers have been forced to leave the hobby/sport due to incessant attacks by these birds of prey which seem to focus on these roller pigeons as a primary food source (especially in the cities).” Solution: Make the world safer for rollers by continuously killing raptors as they gravitate to roller lofts from all compass points, like stars to black holes.

In 2007, seven members of “roller” clubs in southern California were charged with fatally beating and shooting federally protected raptors. Tyson himself has never killed an encroaching hawk, but it’s said that Los Angeles’ roller club members kill as many as 2,000 hawks every year. Weird choice, Animal Planet. I’ll take Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom instead, please.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend