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Cubans turn to pigeon breeding as an escape from pandemic

Pigeon fancier Yonisbel Santana poses for a photo at his rooftop in Havana, Cuba, May 18, 2021. Havana\u0027s pigeon keepers crane out of a window, intently watching the grey birds take flight. Mostly staying indoors due to the country\u0027s worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic began in March last year, Cubans are increasingly breeding pigeons as a form of escape.

REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeon fancier Yonisbel Santana poses for a photo at his rooftop in Havana, Cuba, May 18, 2021. Havana's pigeon keepers crane out of a window, intently watching the grey birds take flight. Mostly staying indoors due to the country's worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic began in March last year, Cubans are increasingly breeding pigeons as a form of escape. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeon fancier Pedro Marrero shows a pigeon in his rooftop in Havana. \
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Pigeon fancier Pedro Marrero shows a pigeon in his rooftop in Havana. "You can't leave the house," said Marrero, president of the Seductive Pigeon Promotion Club, a group of people who love the birds and rear them as a hobby. "We are locked inside. Everything is restricted and we have one place to escape, which is the roof. We go up to the roof, we have our animals and we have a good time there," he said. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeons fly over Havana. Marrero, 53, says it relaxes him to catch and train pigeons on his Havana rooftop, where he gets to disconnect from the stresses of the pandemic and enjoy the graceful flight of his birds.

REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeons fly over Havana. Marrero, 53, says it relaxes him to catch and train pigeons on his Havana rooftop, where he gets to disconnect from the stresses of the pandemic and enjoy the graceful flight of his birds. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Freddy Moreno (not pictured) checks pigeons with a friend at his balcony in Havana. The newly passed Animal Welfare Law states there are no limits to breeding the birds \
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Freddy Moreno (not pictured) checks pigeons with a friend at his balcony in Havana. The newly passed Animal Welfare Law states there are no limits to breeding the birds "as long as the hygienic, sanitary and welfare requirements that the species requires are met," according to the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeons fly over Havana. Pigeons are also sold at the market and used in Santeria ceremonies. The priests of the ritual-filled, Afro-Cuban religion say pigeons are in high demand by their clients.

REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeons fly over Havana. Pigeons are also sold at the market and used in Santeria ceremonies. The priests of the ritual-filled, Afro-Cuban religion say pigeons are in high demand by their clients. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeons are seen next to their loft at a balcony in Havana. Despite health and safety restrictions, Cuba has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases as the government opened its borders. So far in May, 29,006 people were reported to have COVID-19 with a daily average of 1,160 being admitted to hospital and 258 deaths, up from 229 deaths in April, according to official figures.

REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeons are seen next to their loft at a balcony in Havana. Despite health and safety restrictions, Cuba has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases as the government opened its borders. So far in May, 29,006 people were reported to have COVID-19 with a daily average of 1,160 being admitted to hospital and 258 deaths, up from 229 deaths in April, according to official figures. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeon fancier Freddy Moreno watches a pigeon leaving its loft at his balcony in Havana. Up on the roofs, pigeon breeders get a thrill from watching the animals vie in the air to capture prey. \
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Pigeon fancier Freddy Moreno watches a pigeon leaving its loft at his balcony in Havana. Up on the roofs, pigeon breeders get a thrill from watching the animals vie in the air to capture prey. "To see your pigeon compete against other neighborhood pigeons, so it may bring the prey to your house ... that's the greatest experience a pigeon keeper can have," said Leonisbel Santana, 35 (not pictured). REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Yet others simply have an affinity with the cooing birds. \
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Yet others simply have an affinity with the cooing birds. "I feel love for them," said 35-year-old Yosbany de La Rosa (R), seen with Yonisbel Santana on their Havana rooftop. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeon fancier Freddy Moreno holds a pigeon inside his home in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeon fancier Freddy Moreno holds a pigeon inside his home in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeon fancier Yonisbel Santana smokes a cigarette as he holds a pigeon at his rooftop in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeon fancier Yonisbel Santana smokes a cigarette as he holds a pigeon at his rooftop in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeon fanciers Yonisbel Santana (L) and Yosbany De La Rosa watch their pigeons flying over Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeon fanciers Yonisbel Santana (L) and Yosbany De La Rosa watch their pigeons flying over Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeon fancier Freddy Moreno plays with pigeons at his balcony in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeon fancier Freddy Moreno plays with pigeons at his balcony in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
Pigeon fanciers Freddy Moreno (L) and his brother Jackson Canteiro feed pigeons at their balcony in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Pigeon fanciers Freddy Moreno (L) and his brother Jackson Canteiro feed pigeons at their balcony in Havana. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

May 27, 2021 2:18 PM EDT
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