A Chinese shipping magnate last weekend spent 250,400 euros ($328,000) for a Dutch pigeon, a new world record according to Pipa, the firm that ran the online auction.
These aren’t your ordinary birds that eat scraps in the park but ones bred for the arcane sport of pigeon racing, which has a cult following in England, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and, increasingly, China.
The buyer, Hu Zhen Yu, runs Zhenyu Holding Group in Wenzhou. He told Pipa that he wants to “focus more and more on the pigeon sport.” Zhenyu last year sponsored a pigeon race in Wenzhou that awarded 7 million yuan ($1.1 million) in prize money.
But all is not well with the pecuniary externalities:
Pigeon racing has traditionally been a rural pastime, and the entrance of wealthy Chinese hobbyists is ruffling some feathers. The Telegraph quoted veterans of the sport complaining about the high bids and loss of the birds to another continent.