The two-year-old pigeon from Belgium, named New Kim, was sold to an anonymous Chinese buyer for 1.6 million euros ($1.9 million). By far, it is the most expensive pigeon sold in history, beating last year's male pigeon Armando sold at 1.2 million euros ($1.19 million).

"I believe it's a world record, there has never been an officially documented sale at such a price," Pigeon Paradise chairman Nikolaas Gyselbrecht said. "I didn't think we could reach that amount."

Pigeon racing began in Belgium in 1818 wherein more the birds flew for more than 100 miles in a race. The country also holds the record with the most number of pigeon enthusiasts among any other countries in the world.

Most Expensive Pigeon Ever Sold

According to The Guardian's report, offers for New Kim had already soared to 1.32 million euros ($1.56 million) last week, already beating Armando's price last year. Armando was the male pigeon also sold last year and was the most expensive pigeon sold not until New Kim this year.

Gyselbrecht said that they could not believe the record price because New Kim is a female pigeon while Armando is male. Typically, male pigeons are more expensive than a female because they can reproduce more offspring.

He added that New Kim was only two years old when she started joining pigeon racing in 2018 which earned her the title of the best young bird in Belgium. However, that has also prompted her early retirement from racing as female pigeons can only breed up to ten. Therefore, New Kim has only eight more years of chicks ahead.

The anonymous Chinese buyer would probably breed her, said Gyselbrecht.

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Pigeon Racing in China

In China, pigeon racing can generate huge winnings. Perhaps that is the reason for the Chinese buyer to purchase New Kim at such an expensive price.

According to reports, rich buyers from the Gulf and Asia are the main reason for the prices of champion birds to go up sharply as pigeons from Belgium are particularly prized because it is where pigeon racing started.

The father and son duo Gaston and Kurt Van De Wouwer trained New Kim at their world-class loft in Berlaar, near Antwerp. Fortunately, they were able to sell their entire collection of racing pigeons last Sunday, November 15.

Beginnings of Pigeon Racing

Pigeon racing first began in 1818 during the long-distance racing of more than 100 miles (160 km). Another pigeon racing was held in 1820, but this time it is at Paris and Liege; then in London by 1823.

Pigeon racing slowly gained popularity during the late 1800s in Great Britain, the US, and France, but it is not comparable to how popular it is in Belgium in which races could reach up to 470 miles (750 km). Soon thereafter, this kind of racing spread throughout the UK, from Exeter, Plymouth, and Penzance.

Pigeon racers have used the knowledge that pigeons can be trained to return home even after releasing them at various distances. They used this as the main idea of conducting pigeon racing events. 

The caretakers attached a timing device onto their legs that indicate their time of arrival. But they should enter their home lofts first before their time is recorded to know the winner of the race.

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