Parents slammed for horrendous gender reveal party trend killing birds

A pink pigeon
A pink pigeon was spotted in Devon -Credit:Andrew Lamont

A shocking trend, popularised in the US, is causing the unnecessary deaths of birds and has been labelled as a 'horrendous' and cruel viral craze. The RSPCA has warned expectant parents after a pigeon died tragically in Corby, Northamptonshire after being covered in pink dye, believed to be for a gender reveal party.

Animal welfare chiefs are fearful that it was coloured as part of an internet-boosted fad where birds are dyed blue or pink and released at gatherings to announce an unborn baby's sex. Besides the vibrant dyes containing toxic substances detrimental to animals, the artificial colouring leaves these avian creatures more exposed to predators and they're also more likely to be ostracised by their own species.

In this heartrending case, when the pigeon was brought to Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital, it was both gravely ill and malnourished and sadly didn't survive. The RSPCA suggests that this issue is growing increasingly common across the UK, reports the Mirror.

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A spokesperson for the animal welfare charity said: "The majority of us want the best for animals, and to treat them with respect - so intentionally painting a pigeon's feathers is unacceptable as it could cause health problems, impair their ability to fly and make them more vulnerable to predators."

"In addition, dye and paints can be toxic to birds and other animals, and they would be likely to try to clean any such substance from their coat or feathers which could result in them swallowing it. From time to time, we do hear anecdotally about incidents involving animals being affected in this way - and sadly we fear social media trends could be fuelling this."

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The animal centre, located in Kibworth, Leicestershire, issued a warning on their social media after admitting a pink-stained pigeon. The bird was reportedly attacked by a cat, leading to 'significant wounds'. They said: "Yesterday, we admitted this pigeon which had been dyed pink. The pigeon was most likely used for a gender reveal party and is absolutely shocking.

"It has become a horrendous trend and we are urging you to spread the message about the effects that this can have. Please think before you follow these social media trends. Quite simply, it is an act of cruelty and is no way to celebrate the gender of your baby. As in the case of this pigeon, the dye makes the birds a much easier and identifiable target to predators.

"They may also be 'picked on' by other pigeons causing them to struggle with getting food - exacerbated by the fact that these pigeons are usually bred in captivity and so have absolutely no sense of how to survive in the wild. The dye also contains toxins which can be inhaled, or ingested by the pigeon, causing them to become incredibly unwell. This pigeon sadly didn't make it, he was incredibly malnourished, dehydrated and had significant wounds caused by the cat. Please share to spread the message."

Amy Ducker, from Leicestershire Wildlife Hospital, remarked: "In any case, using domestic birds for releases at weddings or parties never seems to end that well for the pigeons or doves. They're domestic animals and they've never lived in the wild so they don't really know what they're doing."

She continued: "People obviously don't realise when they see these trends going on on social media and they don't even stop to think whether it's something that's right or wrong. I suppose they just look at it and think everyone's doing it so it must be OK.

Back in February, a pigeon named Flamingo, who was rescued from a park in New York City, died after being dyed pink in what was believed to be a gender reveal party stunt. The Wild Bird Fund had previously stated: "Flamingo's story sparked a lot of emotion and generated interest from around the world. We hope the tale of his too-short life will help prevent more acts of careless cruelty."

"Dove releases sound romantic, but take away the decorations and Instagram photos, and they are the equivalent of dumping your helpless pets on the side of the road. This is no way to celebrate anything."

Even Devon has not escaped the trend. A similar pink pigeon which was spotted at a farm in Exmouth last year came as a "real surprise" for one man.

Andrew Lamont of Lower Halsdon Farm told DevonLive last year: "I think it was dyed however, can't be sure. It was a real surprise when it landed next to me. We are at Lower Halsdon Farm, Exmouth, just by the Exe trail path."