By Logan Scherer
In an effort to rebuild his image, Mike Tyson has a new Animal Planet series in the works, tentatively titled "Taking on Tyson" and slated to premiere in 2011. The former heavyweight fighter will use the program to showcase his passion for pigeons via his exploits in the pigeon-racing industry.
While we would never knock someone's love for these intelligent birds, Tyson's claim to care about pigeons is rather incredulous given that he chooses to tout using them in a "sport" that—like horseracing—exposes them to danger and death. In a typical race, the birds are taken great distances—sometimes as many as 500 miles—away from their homes and then released to see if they can find their way back. It can only be a traumatic experience, as evidenced by the fallen pigeons who succumb to storms, shotgun pellets, and collisions with high-tension wires and who are often found starving, exhausted, and a long way from home.
Pigeons mate for life, and the likelihood that both partners will find each other again or that the bird who is released will be reunited with the one left in the coop is a crapshoot. For those banded birds who are found by concerned citizens or turned in to humane societies and have their bands traced, the voice on the other end of the phone is likely to say what we have been told directly, i.e., "Wring their necks, that's what we do with losers."
Mike Tyson likes to tell the story of the first time that he beat someone up, saying it was over someone wanting to hurt one of "his" pigeons. Well, in pigeon racing, he'll meet a lot of people he can beat up if that's the criteria, but if he really wants to rehabilitate his image, then the seedy underbelly of the pigeon-racing world isn't the ideal stage for him.
If you'd like to contact Animal Planet to state your opinion on whether this show should air or if the network should stick to "Whale Wars" and "Animal Cops," please send a polite message to Discovery Communications' viewer relations department.