A Chinese shipping magnate, Hu Zhen Yu, broke a world record by paying a record price of $328,000 for a Dutch pigeon, making it the world's most expensive bird of its kind.
The pigeon was put up for auction online by Pieter Veenstra, who auctioned 245 pigeons on the Belgian site Pigeon Paradise (PIPA). The sale of the birds made a total of $2.5 million, making it the most expensive pigeon auction ever. Many of the birds will be used for pigeon racing.
Hu intends to breed the female pigeon, rather than race it, while focusing on the sport. He runs a shipping company, Zhenyu Holding Group, in China and owns one of the largest South China pigeon-racing organizations. In 2011, Hu sponsored a pigeon race with $1.1 million in prize money offered.
While pigeon-racing is extremely popular in the UK, Belgium, Holland and Germany, Hu hopes to develop further interest for the sport in China.
The record-setting price has sparked controversy around the world of pigeon racing. The races require the birds to fly a carefully measured distance to return home. Pigeons are bred and specially trained to fly between 60 and 600 miles. The winner is the pigeon that flies at the highest velocity and the races often come down to a matter of seconds.
Ken Ambler, a pigeon fancier in the UK, told the Telegraph that the sport, which first gained cult popularity in Belgium in the 19th century, has evolved into an expensive game where pigeons are housed in luxury rather than the basic orange box lofts of yesteryear.
We must not forget pigeon racing is a simple sport to be enjoyed by all who wish to become involved for the right reasons, Ambler told the Telegraph.