Animal Planet, Mike Tyson, and a question of ethics

Mike Tyson has had his head knocked around a few times. Maybe that explains his answers to interviewer Paul Lukas of ESPN’s Page 2:

Lukas: You like birds and you used to be a fighter. Some people combine those two elements — birds and fighting — into cockfighting. Have you ever seen or been around cockfighting, and what’s your feeling about it?


Tyson: I went to a cockfight in Mexico. They wore gloves, like a boxer — that was good.


Lukas: I thought they wore sharp talons.


Tyson: No, listen — they had gloves that they put on the talons, so they wouldn’t cut into each other so much. They’d still get bad gashes, but they weren’t fighting to the death. I’m not a fan of that, when they fight to the death. I believe that you should let the dogs fight, let the roosters fight, but let the loser live to fight another day. I don’t believe that they’re no good once they lose.

“You should let the dogs fight, let the roosters fight…”?? But like I said, maybe Tyson’s brain has been knocked against his skull so much, forcing animals to fight makes sense to him.

The producers at Animal Planet, however, are not boxers (as far as I know) and should have fully functioning mental faculties. Yet the network is playing host to a new show, Taking on Tyson, which gives viewers an inside glimpse into the “sport” of pigeon racing.

Admittedly, I know little about pigeon racing. My guess is that it’s not cruel in the same way dog fighting or cock fighting is cruel. (Maybe the birds enjoy living in captivity and adhering to a strict training schedule?) The problem is, it feeds a bigger issue: Why are we yet again forcing animals to perform for our entertainment?

And for the love of God, why is a network like Animal Planet promoting it?