Pigeon to be put down after surviving 8,000-mile trip over fears of diseases

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A racing pigeon which travelled 8,000 miles from the US to Australia will be killed because of disease fears.

The bird, which has been named Joe after US president-elect Joe Biden, arrived in Melbourne before the New Year.

He is thought to have hitched a ride the whole way on a cargo ship.

It emerged the winged creature had vanished from a race in Oregon, US on October 29.

But his arrival quickly attracted the attention of the strict Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird said the bird "rocked up" at his home in an "emaciated" state on Boxing Day, Sky News reports.

He added: "I've got a fountain in the backyard and it was having a drink and a wash. He was pretty emaciated so I crushed up a dry biscuit and left it out there for him.

"Obviously he belongs to someone, so I managed to catch him.

"I think that he just decided that since I've given him some food and he's got a spot to drink, that's home."

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He says he tried to contact the pigeon's owner in Alabama, US but had no luck.

After the story became public, quarantine officials contacted him to ask him to catch the bird.

They told him they were concerned about bird diseases and wanted to know if he could help them, according to Mr Celli-Bird.

But he replied that he couldn’t catch it, as if he gets within 20 inches of it the pigeon moves.

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Since the animal has regained its strength he can no longer catch it with his bare hands, he added.

He claims the quarantine service is now looking at employing a professional bird catcher to get Joe.

There have been reported cases of racing pigeons from China reaching the west coast of Australia on cargo ships.

The greatest long-distance flight recorded by a pigeon took place in 1931 when a bird flew from Arras, France to Saigon, Vietnam – a 7,200-mile journey which took 24 days.

Back in 2015, Australia’s strict quarantine rules were highlighted in the case of Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

They were ordered to take their two dogs Pistol and Boo – which had been smuggled in illegally – out of the country or they would be put down.

  • Animals
  • Coronavirus

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