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Bird brained: PETA fight Tyson over pigeon show

Looks like PETA is going toe-to-toe with controversial boxer Mike Tyson.

Last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to prosecutors in New York City requesting that they investigate the controversial former heavyweight champion's new pigeon-racing Animal Planet reality show, which will film in Brooklyn.

The animal rights organisation, looking for any excuse to garner publicity, hopes prosecutors will look out for illegal activity, "in connection with pigeon racing ... it is likely that extensive wagering will take place on the outcome of these races, as it customary in the industry."

But there is a bigger motivation behind PETA's protesting -- the organisation also claims the reality show, tentatively called "Taking on Tyson," might be cruel to its animal subjects.

"One wonders whether Mike Tyson -- as a self-appointed ambassador of and 'rookie' to pigeon racing -- realises that just as losing racehorses end up in the glue factory, these gentle, loyal birds who race their hearts out in order to get home to their life mates often become lost in storms or have their necks wrung for failing to beat their competitors' time," PETA president Ingrid E Newkirk, said. "Animal Planet needs more programmes like 'Whale Wars' and 'Animal Cops' in which people go to bat for animals and fewer that showcase cruelty and profiteering at animals' expense."

Animal-loving network Animal Planet has responded to PETA's claims, saying: "Regarding PETA's latest allegations, we want to clarify that for Animal Planet's 'Taking on Tyson' show, there have never been any plans for wagering on the pigeon races.

"All of the pigeons that we will feature are cherished by their owners, including Mr Tyson. Animal Planet will honour that respect in our production and in how these beautiful creatures are treated."