March 23, 2010 06:51:50 GMT
Learning that the boxing champ will start filming his reality TV show about bird race in April, PETA has urged authorities to scrap the series because 'it is inherently cruel.'
Former boxing champ Mike Tyson is facing a challenge from animal rights campaigners over his upcoming bird racing reality show after they branded the program "cruel". The retired sportsman has harbored a passion for pigeon racing for years and recently landed a TV deal to bring his hobby to the small screen in U.S. series "Taking on Tyson".
But the concept of the show has infuriated activists from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and they are calling on the show to be halted before filming starts in Brooklyn, New York in April. PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr says, "It is inherently cruel. The birds often end up lost in storms, being injured, or just becoming so exhausted that they're unable to fly."
Tyson's show is already under investigation by the New York District Attorney's office over allegations it involves illegal gambling and Kerr is hoping state authorities ban the series from going to air. He adds, "Pigeon racing as an industry involves gambling. That's why people do it, to make money."
However, bosses at the Animal Planet network, who bought the rights to Tyson's show, insist the complaints are unfounded. Representative Patricia Kollappallil tells the New York Daily News, "There have never been any plans for wagering on the pigeon race. (The birds will be) cherished and respected by their owners, including Mr. Tyson."