We got into this whole chicken business because of a hen named Consuela, who survived being gassed (along with thousands of others) at a factory farm and was rescued from the landfill (yes, that’s where they take the chicken carcasses) by Liz Perry, owner of Nutzy Mutts and Crazy Cats pet stores and chicken-rescuer extraordinaire.
I wrote a story about Consuela back when I was a reporter for The Capital Times. You can read it here. Her story is also told in the Mad City Chickens documentary from Tarazod Films and appears in my book CLUCK, from Jungle Fowl to City Chicks, published by Itchy Cat Press.
Consuela’s story had a happy ending, but last week we saw a story in the Christian Science Monitor that we hope will have a happy ending times 1,150! That’s how many chickens were rescued from a factory farm by an animal rescue group. Pretty impressive in itself. But what happened next gives whole new meaning to “flying the coop.”
The summary is below. You can read the whole story here.
Overnight Wednesday, 1,150 former commercial egg-laying hens flew pretty much first class – well, 10 to a crate – on an Embraer jet from California to New York, believed to be the first transnational all-chicken flight in history.
The flight came after an animal rescue group called Animal Place in Grass Valley, Calif., received the cluckers from a California egg factory, which had planned to gas the aging birds. An anonymous donor paid $43 a bird to have them shipped on a charter flight. The birds will be farmed out to backyard chicken coops in the Northeast and Midwest.
Animal Place, which was founded in 1989, rescues, houses, and places a wide array of farm animals. In this case, the flock facing extinction numbered more than 3,000 birds. The group had planned to rescue 2,000, which is all the group could place in California and Oregon. When the situation was brought up to the eventual donor, the plan to fly the rest of the flock to the East Coast began to form.
According to a press release, “The hens were carefully loaded from Animal Place's two facilities in Grass Valley and Vacaville, CA, then trucked to the Hayward Executive Airport for a 6:45 p.m. departure. They arrived at Elmira Corning Regional Airport in Horseheads, NY around 7 a.m. after two stops for refueling.”
“This is the first time any group has flown this many birds across the country,” says Ms. Beach, noting a “kind of expansion of consciousness” happening around animal rescue and welfare.