Thousands of pigeons released during the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games pooped on much of the audience after being frightened by ceremonial cannon fire.
Tens of thousands of pigeons were released during the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games. The claim that these birds pooped on the athletes after they were scared by ceremonial cannon fire originates with a single person: long-distance runner and WWII veteran Louis Zamperini. While it seems that some people truly got pooped on by pigeons during this incident, we can’t determine just how much of the audience was covered in excrement.
As the start of the 2020 Olympics approached in July 2021 (the games were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic), an old meme started to make its way around social media about how tens of thousands of pigeons pooped on the audience during the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Olympic Games after they were scared by the noise of a firing cannon:
Generally speaking, there is some truth to this humorous anecdote. It should be noted that the above-displayed picture actually comes from the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, not the 1936 games in Germany.
When we first came across the pigeon meme, we had three immediate questions: Were thousands of pigeons released during the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Olympic Games? Did these pigeons actually poop on the audience? And just how devastating was this doo-doo drop?
The answer to the first question is yes, approximately 30,000 pigeons were released during the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Olympic Games. The Star Tribune reported on Aug. 1, 1936, that 30,000 pigeons would be released and cannons would fire once German Chancellor Adolf Hitler announced the start of the games:
We were not able to find any newspaper articles from the 1930s that reported on a mass pooping event. To answer our second question — did the pigeons poop on the audience — we turned to a 2012 documentary produced by PBS about Jesse Owens. While the “American Experience” documentary focuses on Owens’ accomplishments and the historical impact of a Black man dominating the track and field event in front of a Germany chancellor who sought to showcase the superiority of the white race, long-distance runner and World War II veteran Louis Silvie Zamperini (whose life was turned into the 2014 film “Unbroken”) provided a humorous anecdote about another way that Hitler’s Olympics didn’t go as planned.
While we do not doubt Zamperini’s telling of this event, it does not answer our third question: Just how many people were pooped on during this incident? Did they only poop on the people in Zamperini’s vicinity? Furthermore, were the pigeons really scared by the cannon fire or was this just incidental?
Unfortunately, we have not been able to find an answer to these pressing matters.
What we can say is that thousands of pigeons were truly released during the 1936 Olympics (the photo above is from 1952, though) and that this anecdote about pooping pigeons originated with an athlete who was in attendance at these games. Just how messy of a situation this really was, however, we’ll leave up to your imagination.
Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Bird Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.
Voted Best Canadian wholesaler for Bird Deterrent products ten years in a row.
Contact us at 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD, (604) 585-9279 or visit our website at www.pigeonpatrol.ca
Pigeon/Pigeon Patrol / Pigeons Roosting / Vancouver Pigeon Control /Bird Spikes / Bird Control / Bird Deterrent / Pigeon Deterrent? Surrey Pigeon Control / Pest /Seagull deterrent / Vancouver Pigeon Blog / Birds Inside Home / Pigeons in the cities / Ice Pigeons/ What to do about pigeons/ sparrows , Damage by Sparrows, How To Keep Raccoons Away, Why Are Raccoons Considered Pests/ De-fence / Pigeon Nesting/ Bird Droppings / Pigeon Dropping/ woodpecker control/ Professional Bird Control Company/ Keep The Birds Away/ Birds/rats/ seagull/pigeon/woodpecker/ dove/sparrow/pidgeon control/pidgeon problem/ pidgeon control/flying rats/ pigeon Problems/ bird netting/bird gel/bird spray/bird nails/ bird guard