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Pigeon racing the new sport of kings

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  • Welcome to the chaos of pigeon racing: Spiraling auction prices, criminal bird gangs, and a mad gambling boom.

The truck may drive 500-700 miles away, and then the birds are released as the marathon begins. Pigeon pirates are on alert, hoping to catch returning birds to sell on the black market; hawks are always on the prowl; bad weather may claim birds; and disorientation may be a factor.

This is no horse race with a two-minute hurtle towards euphoria or dejection; it’s a dry-mouth game of patience for the pigeon owners and bettors. The wait will last hours; and depending on whether it gets dark and the pigeons roost, it may lapse into the next day.

When the birds arrive home (the strongest birds will fly 600 miles without stopping), the tabulations are made, and the results are announced over the Internet and text. The winners gloat and count their cash; the losers lick their wounds; and the breeding begins.

With the glut of cash in Chinese pigeon racing, the U.S. feed industry has taken note. Jos Zamzow, Meridian, Idaho, believes his family company, Dynamite Marketing, has perfected a high-performance pigeon feed. The News Tribune reports that Zamzow’s first test shipments of the feed concoction will arrive in Taiwan this summer. “After they start winning races, we expect there will be significant demand … pigeon racing is popular all over Asia.”

Zamzow already markets pet and pork feed in Taiwan. “Now Zamzow is betting that Dynamite can transform Idaho-grown safflower and corn — and a top-secret, blood-boosting brew of mushroom powder and yeast cell wall extract it makes in its 102-year-old feed mill — into an annual export business worth up to $15 million.”

Spiraling pigeon auction prices, criminal bird gangs, and a mad gambling boom — a fitting backdrop for a capitalist sport once banned by Chairman Mao.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @CBennett71

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 2

ZeroSum2 (not verified)
on Jul 18, 2013

This is a marvelous story. Brought new meaning to "homing pigeon!" I have lived in the Middle East and Europe. In both those places pigeons occupy a special place in the culture, especially Europe. Most American have little appreciation for pigeons. Thanks for giving them their due!

on Nov 28, 2013

Chinese pigeon racing has become a huge business. Good pigeons can cost a lot and training one is very hard. I didn't know the spot is popular in Taiwan too. Regards, --Jason

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