Charity hopes its sky lanterns won't offend anyone

A charity that ditched its annual balloon release because of concerns about environmental damage, then cancelled its replacement dove and pigeon race on cruelty grounds, will now stage a release of bio-degradable Chinese-style sky lanterns.

Llamau, a Welsh charity for homeless young people, abandoned its balloon event after the Marine Conservation Society wrote to Third Sector saying deflated balloons can be harmful to animals (11 June, page 13).

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals then wrote to Llamau after reading about its new plan in Third Sector (16 July, page 3). It said pigeon racing had a "dark underbelly" of cruelty and suggested Llamau organise a cricket match instead.

Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of Peta, said: "Pigeon racing uses the animals as if they were mechanical objects and turns free-roaming birds into caged ones with no choice."

Rachal Minchinton, fundraising and event manager for Llamau, said the charity had opted for a release of biodegradable sky lanterns, which rise into the air when a candle is lit inside them, after checking with Friends of the Earth Cymru. The event takes place today and will feature a fundraising raffle.

"We've been shocked by the reaction to the dove and pigeon race, but overwhelmed by public support," said Minchinton.

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