You have to give those wacky folks who run People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) credit for their ability to attract media attention (see, even I'm doing it). Their latest stunt is a letter to Virginia's governor asking to rent a closed down prison as a chicken empathy museum. I can't say it any better than PETA's press release, so here goes:
Roanoke, Va. -- This morning, PETA sent a letter to Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine offering to rent the Botetourt Correctional Center building, which is slated to close because of budget concerns, and turn it into America's first chicken empathy museum.
The museum could feature exhibits that include video footage from research conducted at Bristol University in the U.K.--research that showed how chickens are intelligent animals with mental abilities comparable to cats, dogs, and even primates. It could also feature a restaurant that would serve heart-friendly and delicious faux-chicken drumsticks and chickenless pot pie and a gift shop that could provide free plush chickens for kids, with tags reading, "I Am Not a Nugget!" The museum would feature interactive displays, including one in which visitors have weighted backpacks strapped to their backs to simulate how large chickens' upper bodies can grow in proportion to their legs. The museum would also provide area residents with much-needed jobs.
"In addition to creating jobs, the museum would convert a building that was built for the purpose of incarceration into a tribute to liberation," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Chickens are sensitive, smart animals who have feelings just as we do--they deserve better than to be treated like mere meat machines."
My extensive personal experience watching over hundreds of chickens (and stealing their eggs) strongly suggests that the U.K. researchers are exaggerating. But given the assertion that chickens are about as smart as dogs, I guess one can update PETA President Ingrid Newkirk's infamous mantra to:
A rat is a pig is a dog is a chicken is a boy