How much would you pay for a pigeon? Seriously, in U.S. dollars, what would be the most you would give for a bird that most people would just as soon didn’t exist, that makes a mess of cars, statues, window ledges, and pretty much everything else it comes in contact with. A bird that is so wimpy it lives entirely in urban areas, where shooting it is illegal, and has no redeeming qualities whatever. How much?Well, a Dutch fellow named Pieter Veenstra, who lives in the actual Dutch town of Drachtstercompagnie, which I promise I did not make up, recently put 245 pigeons up for online auction through a Belgium-based firm called PIPA. PIPA stands for Pigeon Paradise, which is strange enough in itself. And PIPA’s president is named Nikolaas Gyselbrecht. I didn’t make that up, either.One of these pigeons went for $328,000. Really. Three hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars. For a pigeon.Of course, this is not just your average, everyday, garden variety bird. This is a racing pigeon. And yes, since I know you’re going to ask, there are evidently people who race pigeons, just like horses or dogs or pigs or whatever. Well, I think the pigeons fly instead of run, but the idea is the same. As far as we know.The guy who bought the pigeon for such an obscene sum was a Chinese shipping magnate named Hu Zhen Yu, who plans to breed the female pigeon to create a cote of birds unparalleled in the annals of pigeon racing, if you can imagine. And no, I am not going to make a joke about Hu Zhen Yu’s name. Except to say that if he played baseball, and made it to first base, well, you know.This was, as you might have guessed, an all-time record pigeon sale. I would hope so. But the total take for the auction of Pieter’s 245 birds was also a record – they brought an aggregate $2.5 million.So now I’m thinking of trapping some of the pigeons that hang around the courthouse in Mason, pooping on the sidewalk, irritating our County Judge. I’m thinking of going into the pigeon raising business. I figure if Pieter can get that kind of jack for fast birds, I should be able to at least rake in a few hundred bucks apiece for some average ones. And if the buyers complain, I’ll just tell them I bought the pigeons from Pieter.But raising pigeons is just one way to make big bucks from animals these days. Another is cloning. I have not, personally, ever cloned an animal, but I can’t imagine it would be all that hard. A white coat, a petri dish or two, a really big magnifying glass, and you’re in business. Anyone who wanted an animal cloned would have to supply the DNA, anyway.And you can pull down a pretty fair roll cloning animals, if Danielle Tarantola is any indication. Danielle just paid $50,000 to have her dog cloned. And that money went to a South Korean company. So I figure we need to offer people an alternative to sending their cloning money overseas, and get them to shop at home for duplicate pets.Danielle’s dog wasn’t even anything special, as far as I can tell. It never saved anyone from drowning, or dragged a kid out of burning building, or ate the neighbor’s cats, or anything valuable. It was just a wimpy, shaggy little mutt, the kind that you could put on a stick and wipe cobwebs with. The original dog, which died when it was 18, was named Trouble, do Danielle named the replacement Double Trouble.The funny thing about this story is that Danielle used to work on Wall Street, but she got laid off three years ago, so it would seem fifty grand would be a bit much to pay for a dog. Especially when she could have gone to the corner pet store or city pound and probably found another one that looked pretty much like her other dog. The clone is, after all, not the same dog. Just sayin.But if you really want to make money from animals, without the risk of possibly becoming attached to any of them, the way to go is cow brains. You can’t race them, and they don’t come when you call, but there’s also no awkward house-training period.It seems Egyptians are really fond of cow brains. Eating them, I mean. Which has driven the price up in Egypt. So some enterprising folks have taken to buying cow brains in Sudan, where they go for about a buck a pound, and selling them in Egypt for six times that.The only problem is that you’re supposed to go through some procedures, which are evidently inconvenient and costly, to transport cow brains internationally, so most of these folks are smuggling them from Sudan to Egypt, thereby possibly raising the IQ of both countries. (rim shot)So there you have it, three great ideas for dragging in some extra cash. Pick your favorite. All I’ve got to say is anyone who would pay more than a quarter of a million dollars for a bird is a pigeon . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who will be happy to clone your dog or cat, as long as you don’t mind it looking different than the original. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org