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Why Releasing Doves is Anything But Peaceful

Why Releasing Doves is Anything But Peaceful

Releasing doves as a symbol of peace may be an age-old tradition, but the Pope and his followers learned the hard way that this ritual is not as innocent as it seems. After the Pope and visiting children let loose a pair of doves out of a Vatican window this past weekend, larger birds promptly attacked the two doves.

Photographers captured the startling moment when a gull and a black crow assaulted the doves.

Though some spectators worried that the bird-on-bird violence indicated a lack of peace in years to come, animal activists are more concerned over how dangerous these ceremonies are for the doves. In fact, it isnít the first time Catholics have witnessed ďpeaceĒ doves get mauled after a special papal release. In response, Care2 member Chris Wolverton wrote a petition to call for Pope Francis to stop releasing doves and thereby putting them at risk.

Of course, the Pope is hardly the only one to release doves; all around the world, groups ďfreeĒ the birds because of their supposed symbolism. The momentary beauty, however, is counteracted by elements for which the doves are entirely unprepared. Sadly, even doves that arenít quickly attacked by birds of prey arenít likely to survive much longer anyway.

For starters, the dovesí color is not natural. These birds have been bred specifically to achieve a bright white shine, making them stand out to predators that donít normally see this color in the wild. On top of that, having never experienced this type of threat while in captivity, the doves are unaware of how to hide or defend themselves from attacks.

Being bred and kept in captivity makes the doves unaware of most survival skills, actually. Many of them end up starving since they donít know how to find food. Without a flock to protect them, the doves remain vulnerable to unfamiliar elements.

Granted, not all dove release companies are this thoughtless with their birds. Some enterprises train ďdovesĒ (which are often actually specially-bred white pigeons) to fly out at an event and then return to their owner. At least these birds are generally well cared for as they are considered an ongoing investment. In most cases, however, companies have no intention of rounding up the doves after releasing them, thereby essentially leaving them for dead.

Considering the ultimate outcome, dove releases should be discontinued at weddings and funerals, as well. Itís not peaceful, itís not romantic, and itís not celebratory Ė itís just sad.

While Pope Francis has demonstrated a lot of wisdom about the worldís economic inequalities, releasing doves appears to be one issue about which he could stand to become better educated. Be sure to sign the petition to make sure he hears the message.

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103 comments

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5:52PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

Petition signed.

12:04PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Petition signed.

9:23AM PST on Feb 10, 2014

they're not prepared to live in the nature and defend themselves... poor ones.

8:26AM PST on Feb 6, 2014

Petition already signed!

8:57AM PST on Feb 5, 2014

While very informative on the subject of doves for those heretofore unaware, shit happens in all walks of life as good and evil collide.

While it's true that through the early parts of Bible doves are mentioned regularly, perhaps after this incident Pope Francis will put this one to rest with some of the other things he's already done.

Pretty cool, though, perhaps it's more symbolic than meets the eye.

8:29PM PST on Feb 4, 2014

That's nature!
Lynne M. makes an interesting point, as does Miranda L.

7:48AM PST on Feb 4, 2014

Petition signed

3:51PM PST on Feb 3, 2014

The strange thing about this is you would think the Vatican would have stopped releasing doves after the first incident, because some people were surely traumatized, and it sends the opposite message of the symbolic release.

11:48AM PST on Feb 3, 2014

It is so sad to know that behid this symbolic act, doves are subjected to many dangers. It's time to end this practice no matter how noble the pupose.

9:24AM PST on Feb 3, 2014

Thanks.

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