Following the cues of countless other former celebs, boxer and Scottsdale resident Mike Tyson will be featured in his own reality show on Animal Planet, where he will participate in one of the most classic hood-rat games in existence: Pigeon racing.
Since there are animals involved, and Mike Tyson's "Mike Tyson," guess who's worried -- PETA.
Tyson's show, Taking on Tyson, will be filmed in Brooklyn, New York, this spring and features Tyson racing these winged rats from ghetto rooftops.
PETA is concerned that because of the nature of the sport, some of the pigeons will be hurt or killed the way canines are in dog fighting.
"One wonders whether Mike Tyson -- as a self-appointed ambassador of and 'rookie' to pigeon racing -- realizes 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, says in a statement given to New Times. "Animal Planet needs more programs like Whale Wars and Animal Cops in which people go to bat for animals and fewer programs that showcase cruelty and profiteering at animals' expense."
Whale Wars, huh? For anyone who missed that spectacle, here's a brief synopsis: A bunch of hippies got funding from the wife of deceased Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin to follow Japanese whaling vessels around the South Pole and fire stink bombs at them from their giant boat. As far as we can tell, no whales were saved in the filming of the show but some Japanese whalers did end up with some sore nostrils.
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Since Tyson and Animal Planet aren't breaking any actual laws by racing pigeons, PETA has sent a letter to prosecutors in New York advising them to keep an eye on Tyson because "it is likely that extensive wagering will take place on the outcome of these races, as is customary in the industry."
Unless Don King's promoting these races, we're assuming Animal Planet isn't going to get itself into the business of illegal pigeon gambling, but we called the network just to be sure, and it directed us to a press release.
"Regarding PETA's latest allegations, I wanted to clarify that for Animal Planet's Taking on Tyson show, there have never been any plans for wagering on the pigeon races. We have not yet begun filming but, rest assured, all of the pigeons that we will feature in the program are cherished and respected by their owners, including Mr. Tyson. Animal Planet will honor that respect and care in our production and in how these beautiful creatures are treated," the press release claims.
As long as "Iron Mike" doesn't plan on cherishing any of these birds the way he cherished Evander Holyfield's ear, PETA should give this one a rest.