Pet Release: An Act Not as Harmless or Merciful as You Think

By Tan Yu Kai

February 2022 FEATURE
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Feral pigeons in cities breed rapidly due to an abundance of anthropogenic waste as food, and are in turn captured for the trade to release back into “the wild”, into the very city where these birds have come to call home.
THROUGH THE SMOG that hangs perpetually over the Goddess of Mercy Temple on Lebuh Pitt, the last cage of pigeons took to the skies, scattering like frightened dust back to the freedom they once enjoyed as, with self-congratulatory candour, the fellowship of pilgrims who purchased the birds-for-release looked on. A good deed has been done.Furtively glancing around, the bird merchant discreetly muttered into the phone, placing an order for five more cages’ worth to be trapped and delivered the next...

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Tan Yu Kai

is a Penangite biologist-cum-artist passionate about human relationalities with the natural world. He is a triple major in Biology, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Anthropology, and was a Research Fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.