A California egg factory had planned to gas aging birds, but after an animal rescue group stepped in, 1,150 hens traveled on an Embraer jet to the East Coast. From there, the birds will be placed in backyard chicken coops.
Who says chickens don’t fly all that well?
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.
“It was a scary flight,” says Marji Beach, Animal Place’s education director. “It’s the first time we’ve done this. There was some turbulence, and the birds were definitely stressed out. But they arrived safe and sound in New York early this morning.”
The notion of near-flightless farm animals being saved and shuttled across the United States may mark a new chapter in the evolution of the animal rescue movement. The movement began, philosophically, with the fight to save spotted owls in the 1970s and later included dog rescue groups and no-kill animal shelters. Now, even ordinary farm animals, fish, snakes, and other “non-human beings” are being saved, primarily by animal welfare volunteers.