OKLAHOMA CITY — "We have thousands of people through out the United States who raise birds for racing and they raise birds for show."Lorrie Monteiro is the curator at the new Mecca for pigeoneers, pigeon fanciers, and anyone wanting to learn more about a lovable little bird that's been helping mankind for centuries.It's the new American Pigeon Museum.Visitors are first greeted by a World War II display showing pigeoneers, or members of the Army Signal Corps, communicating with soldiers in the field by messages attached to their tiny legs."The pigeons were kept inside," Monteiro said. "They were actually trained from the loft to fly to the front lines or behind enemy lines, and back to the loft with their important messages."54,000 pigeons served during World War II. One pigeon, named G. I. Joe, was so important the British awarded him a medal for valor. He stopped an allied bombing raid from killing allied soldiers."He flew 20 miles in 20 minutes," she said.Another pigeon named Cher Ami played an important role in World War I. American soldiers were lost in France. He was their last bird and their only hope."When Cher Ami was released, he was shot three times and his leg is missing because of that," Monteiro said. "But he was able to make it and he was able to save the lost battalion."Just around the corner from the Main Hall, is a special donation from royalty."The Queen's royal loft sent this to us as a donation to our museum," she said.In 1886, Queen Elizabeth's father received pigeons as a gift from King Leopold of Belgium. The birds started the Royal Family's racing loft.In the pigeon world, there are 2 kinds of clubs: racing and show. Those who participate are called pigeon fanciers. Racers trace their roots back to the wars where pigeons flew shorter distances."But in races they can fly up to 500 miles."Monteiro says the museum is a tribute to a little bird that's done big things and is full of nothing but love."These birds are very sociable they've very gentle, that's why they're called the bird of peace. They're very peaceful, they're very loving birds."If you'd like more information on the American Pigeon Museum, click here.
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