On the tradition of releasing animals

I’ve got an injured pigeon at the moment at home and went on the pigeon forum for information. I see there were a lot of cases with a lot of pigeons been killed because of the buddhist tradition of releasing animals. They release pigeons and hawks at the same time and there was even a case on the forum with 35 pigeons killed in california. The cases I’ve read about were all from US because the ritual is practiced there too.

Not only do they release predators along with pray, but they generally release a large number of animals in a random place and most of them die cause they can’t find shelter. I’ve read that in buddhist countries there are people who catch these animals in the wild, then sell them to buddhist witch then release them in random places where most of them die.

Are there any efforts been done to rise awareness of how criminal this tradition is ? It’s basically killing animals not freeing them.

Some more links.

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"Offering an alternative

In September 2011, we arranged for a group of more than 40 Buddhist abbots, abbesses, and congregation members from Chinatown in New York City to visit the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in upstate New York. The purpose of the day-long tour was to demonstrate that supporting and working with animal sanctuaries or animal welfare groups—instead of participating in the harmful mercy release ritual—is truly the best and most compassionate way to help animals."

( http://www.hsi.org/news/news/2011/09/catskills_visit_092211.html )

“While the rationale for this practice is the Buddha’s teaching of kindness and compassion to all creatures, even the most humble, the earliest evidence of the practice actually comes from the Pàëi Tipiñaka. The Buddha once praised a monk who released an animal caught in a trap because he had acted out of `out of compassion’ (karunnena, Vin.III,62).”

The Chinese Buddhist tradition of animal release has its origins in the Suvarõabhàsottama Såtra (Chinese Jin guang ming), composed in the early centuries of the Common Era.

( http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=504 )

I do not know this Buddhist tradition of freeing animals. It is clear that an animal in captivity must have at least a period of adaptation before its release, can end up being a danger on the roads, or end the crops. It is no longer only to fear for his own life and to desire his independence and freedom, as could be a liberation of bison for his non-murder. The genuine desire to give freedom is not enough. That is a good desire. But think about the consequences that the dependence of amimal can cause.

We are not equal to freeing a murder than a domestication.

Of course, despite not agreeing with the Zoos, we will not release a herd of tigers in a population. Not of monkeys. Think about the action before.
No conozco esta tradición Budista de liberar animales. Esta claro que un animal en cautividad debe de tener como minimo un periodo de adaptación antes de su libertad, pueden terminar siendo un peligro en las carreteras, o acabar con las cosechas. Ya no es solamente temer por su propia vida y desear su independencia y libertad, como podría ser una liberación de bisones para su no asesinato. No basta con el deseo genuino de dar libertad. Que es un buen deseo. Sino pensar en las consecuencias que la dependencia del amimal puede causar.

Estamos que no es igual liberar de un asesinato que de una domesticación.

Claro que a pesar de no estar deacuerdo con los Zoos, no soltaremos una manada de tigres en una población. Ni de monos. Pensar en la acción antes.

En España hay unas cuantas horrendas traciciones. Una de palomas por ejemplo, manchan a los machos de diferentes colores en época de reproducción y sueltan a la hembra. El macho que consigue tras la persecución hacerse con la paloma, la mancha con su color, y es el vencedor.

There are a few horrendous traces in Spain. One of pigeons, for example, stains the males of different colors during breeding season and releases the female. The male who gets after the chase to get the dove, the stain with its color, and is the winner.

Gracias por tu buena idea en el debate. Metta.

And to no being, nor born in the hell of animals (tiracchana yoni), should death be procured.
And it is that the heavens or the hells can be in this same life, in this same plane. (Kama loka).

Is this only a Mahayana tradition ? I taught it’s practiced in Theravada too

I’ve the release of fish into rivers in Thailand at Theravada monasteries. That seems relatively harmless, since I presume the fish are natural to those rivers, and may well have been caught in nets for the purpose of releasing them…

However, what is considered “Therevada” and what is “borrowed” is somewhat flexible. Are amulets “Theravada”? Are the Guan Yin statues one sees in the gardens of many monastaries “Theravada”? It depends whether you define “Theravda” as “what Theravada Buddhists do” or “what is recommended in the ancient commentaries”. I think by the latter measure, none of those things are Theravada.

I really don’t know about fish but in general this is done with birds. Almost all of these birds die. If you release a bunch of birds in a place, you are basically giving them a couple of hours to find shelter. And they won’t. Besides that, they will die because of eating poisonous things. A case that I’ve read on that forum involved a bunch of birds getting stuck in a poisonous bush. On top of this, they will simply not find food. You can’t just throw a bunch of animals in a random area that they don’t know and expect them to survive. Most of them die even without doing very stupid things like releasing haws at the same time that you release pigeons.

In the case of pigeons or other birds that have lived in captivity all their lives that are released, that is simply a death sentence. Probably none of them survives.

In Buddhist countries, the problem is much bigger. There has developed an industry where people catch animals out of their natural habitat and then sell them to people who release them in another place where the big majority of them die. An absolutely useless mass murder of animals

in Thailand at Theravada monasteries.

That is what I’ve read too. I don’t understand why some activism against this does not develop in those countries. It’s a pretty obvious problem that does not take too much thinking to figure out. I see activism against “KFC tortures animals” in so many countries. I don’t understand why a campaign against this sensless mass slaughter of animals does not develop in those countries.

In my opinion, such a campaign would do wonders over night. There are no financial reasons at play here. People who do this do it out of compassion and maybe a little greed for good deeds. I am sure all of them, 100% would stop it the moment they find out how stupid it is. They simply have not took a moment to think about it. I think this would disappear in a single year of serious campaign.

Sure an animal does not worth as much as a human. But such a huge number of animals periodically getting mass killed across so many countries must worth something. And it could be so easily stopped. If they would just run a TV add about it, people would find out and tell their friends. In no time it would disappear.

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The whole idea of capturing an animal in order to release it seems perverse.


I have little expectations from countries like Cambodgia, Laos or Myanmar. But Thailand is a little more developed and people are a little more educated. They should develop some monk activism like the 40 buddhist monks from USA that formed a group against this. Monks could easily stop this. There must be some educated people, some vets, some people with access to the internet or simply some people who use their brain from time to time in Thailand.

To be honest, the first time I found out about this was by finding out about the problems it brings. If I would not know about the problems but simply know about the tradition, I’m not sure if I would actually take a moment to think about it. So who am I to speak ? But still, there must be a guy out of a group of people participating at such things that has an “evrika” moment.

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It was sad to see those unscrupulous traders in front of any large temple in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos. Some of them even employed touts to beat competition! Beyond belief that they can trade in front of Buddhist places when the Buddha was very clear on the subject of animal trade. So sad and disturbing affairs…

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Perhaps what is to be seen here, being these countries with a dominant Buddhist religion, other than the Shangas which this evil do promote, the people are multiple, varied and lacking in wisdom. I see normal '' that in a town called Buddhist most people are born who trade for their own benefit. Quizás aqui lo que hay que ver, siendo estos paises con religión Budista dominante, que no sean las Shangas las que este mal hacer promueban, el pueblo es múltiple, variado y carente de sabiduría. Veonormal´´ que en un pueblo denominado Budista en su mayoría surjan seres que comercian a beneficio própio.
This does not mean that as a Buddhist Therabada this pleases me.
Esto no quiere decir que como Budhista este hecho me agrade.