Who let the pigeons out? Suspected spy pigeon released in India

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A pigeon suspected of being a spy for China was released this week by Indian police.

The bird was originally captured near a port in Mumbai around eight months ago with two rings on its legs. Attached was a message that allegedly appeared to be Chinese, per The Guardian. Police suspected the pigeon of being involved with foreign espionage and took it into custody.

The pigeon was then sent to Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals in Mumbai to be examined. However, after an investigation, it was determined that the bird was not a spy but an open-water racing bird from Taiwan that had escaped and flown all the way to India, per The Associated Press.

After its origins were uncovered, the pigeon was transferred to the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals where it was eventually released.

Per CBS, this week’s incident was not the first time a pigeon was suspected of espionage in India.

In 2015, a 14-year-old boy found a pigeon in Manwal, India, with a stamped message on its wings. The message was in Urdu, a common language in nearby Pakistan. Indian police captured the bird and performed an X-ray on it, CBS reported.

Although the recently apprehended pigeon was a racer rather than a spy, militaries have used pigeons in the past.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, more than 100,000 pigeons were used during World War I and more than 250,000 were used in World War II, including the heroic pigeon Cher Ami, who delivered 12 crucial messages at Verdun and was injured delivering the last one.

The brave bird was consequently awarded the French Croix de Guerre, a medal given for valiant service in action, according to the National Park Service.

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