A pigeon that traveled a 13,000 kilometer journey from the US to Australia probably won‘t be able to enjoy his performance for long: the Australian authorities intend to finish him off, fearing infectious diseases.
The pigeon showed up on Christmas Day in the bird bath of Kevin Celli-Bird in Melbourne. “He looked very skinned, so I gave him some crumbled biscuits,” he says to press agency AP. The next day, the bird came back. “I think he sees my garden as his home now, because of the water and the food.”
Because the animal was so weakened, Celli-Bird could easily catch it. Because of the ring around his paw, he found out that the bird belonged to an owner from Alabama. The pigeon had disappeared in October after a race in the coastal state of Oregon. An attempt to contact the owner has not yet been successful.
Celli-Bird named the pigeon Joe, after the upcoming president of his homeland. Local media enthusiastically wrote about the performance that Joe could probably accomplish by hitchhiking aboard a ship.
But the story also came to the attention of AQIS, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. There they realized that Joe had broken the country’s strict quarantine rules.
“ A domestic bird that has not had a health check should not stay in Australia. The only way to guarantee biological safety is to kill the bird,” says a spokesman. Joe could introduce unknown diseases that could decimate the natural birds or poultry.
For now, Joe is as free as a bird: according to Celli-Bird, he is a lot harder to catch now that he is strengthened again. AQIS plans to deploy a bird catcher.