Dortmund, Germany (dpa) – One of the biggest events in the carrier pigeon enthusiast’s calendar kicked off in the German city of Dortmund on Saturday.
Around 200 exhibitors from Europe, America, Asia and elsewhere are expected at the fair, the largest of its kind in the world, according to the Association of German Carrier Pigeon Breeders, which organizes the annual event.
This year, the German Carrier Pigeon Exhibition (DBA) will for the first time feature a section for collectors of ornamental birds.
The organizers are expecting 12,000 visitors to attend the two-day fair, where many birds will be up for sale or auction. The event also promises information on pigeon racing.
Carrier pigeons experienced a boom in Germany in the 1960s, when there were over 100,000 breeders, according to the association’s estimates. Today, that figure has dropped to around 30,000.
However, some rural areas of Germany are said to be experiencing a revival in carrier pigeon breeding, while the custom remains popular in many Eastern European countries and parts of Asia.
“You build up a relationship with each animal,” said Marcel Krause, a 27-year-old breeder who says he can tell the difference between each of his 120 birds.
But animal rights activists have criticized the practice of racing pigeons. The German Animal Welfare Federation says that thousands of pigeons die or sustain injuries during such races.