Here, little chickie... Here little chickie... I'm going to KILL YOU!!

Thanks to Opalcat whose Live Journal mentioned this article.

From The Dallas Observer

Chick Fillet
Life in the food chain includes a stop at Dallas’ children’s zoo
By Charles Siderius •

For the rest of this article (©2001 New Times) please go to:

I don’t want to make a Pit thread out of this, but the article does lend itself to a debate:

Just how ethical is this? If it’s a natural part of the food chain, then why are we having kids pet them and look at them as no different than the kittens or puppies they might have at home? And if that’s not a problem, why is explaining to the kids that these little critters are going to feed those critters in the other cages so bad if that is natural?

Nutshell: Is the Zoo acting in an ethical manner here? If not, why, and what should they do to act in an ethical manner?

Note: If you on the whole find zoos in and of themself to be unethical, please refrain from hijacking this discussion about an individual zoo’s actions. That would be another whole thread, I think, and one I welcome you to start it if you feel strongly enough about it, but for the purpose of this discussion, we will assume that zoos are not inherently unethical.

Really, how is it any different from when the stores used to sell multi-colored (dyed) baby chicks at Easter time?

(BTW, I don’t know about most Zoos, but the Pittsburgh Zoo seems really nice for the animals.)

I don’t much care about the ethics of the practice, Satan, but I just spewed soda all over my monitor when I got to the punchline of the story. Man, that is too funny. :smiley:

But since you asked, I do have to admit that it seems pretty darned wasteful to me to be breeding chicks that you only want around for the single week when they’re cute. I say say they should skip the gas chamber altogether and just toss the chicks directly into the snake cages. That’ll show the kiddies what the cycle of life is really all about.

Why not gas the snakes instead?


Really, I hate snakes. Please don’t tell me they feed live baby animals to snakes-like kittens, which I’ve read…

I read the whole story and I can’t see why the practice is objectionable. Kids get to play with cute baby chicks, animals get food. Do these the objectors think that things would be better if we let toddlers play with grown chickens? That would be far too dangerous IMHO. Do they think we should tell children that the chickies will become food? I don’t think this is a good idea either, although people should be aware food was once live. If anything, the chicks are possibly having a better sunshine-filled life in a petting zoo than locked in a cupboard somewhere.

Then we’ll feed the baby snakes to the ospreys, Guin. :wink:

Well, it’s too bad they’re not more honest about what happens to them, but I don’t see a real problem in what they’re doing.

I fail to see how this is any different than any other ambivalent attitudes that we hold in relationship to animals.

I remember a thread a while ago (probably in The BBQ Pit) where posters were incensed that PETA members would show pictures of Ronald McDonald dressed as a butcher to young children: “Children can eat hamburgers but we don’t want them to know that animals have to be killed for their food”.
Eating a chicken is OK, eating a cow is OK, eating a cat, dog or horse is not.
People bring their children to see Babe and then treat them to a ham and eggs omelet afterward.

In general society has the view that children must be spared the harsh realities of life. So, no, I don’t see that the zoo is being unethical (or at least it’s not contradicting other practices generally considered as being ethical.)

P.S. Obviously the practice is different than some of the examples I mentioned above. I should have said “I don’t see how this is any more of an ethical conundrum than…” (the examples mentioned above.)

I don’t really see a problem with it myself. If they were brought in just for a week of cuddling, then offed and tossed in the dumpster, then I might, but hey are brought in for feeding other animals. If a little kid who would never get to see a chick other than in pictures can get some enjoyment from them in the meantime, so be it. That’s kind of the whole purpose of a zoo. I really see little difference between this and the kids in farm communities that raise chickens and kill them before they reach adulthood for the purpose of food. Does it make it less right that another animal will eat the chicks instead of people eating them when they are older? I don’t see the difference. Is it wrong that they are “gassed” and frozen rather than fed live to other animals? Again, I don’t see the difference. Degrading to the chicken? Sure it is, but hey, it sucks to be a chicken… everyone is after them for their toned legs, supple thighs and firm breast rather than their mind. As far as the zoo explaining what will happen to them? Tough call. For teenagers and adults, sure. But personally, when it comes to toddlers, I feel it’s the parent’s job to explain death, freezers and stuff like that. If I were the “chick wrangler” (Oh, if only I were cute enough to be one of those) I’m not sure that I would tell a small child the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if I was authorized to. The food chain part yes… the how, no.

I think the zoo is crossing the line here.

How many of the widdle kiddies will start nagging their parents to buy them cute little baby chicks to be ignored/discarded when they start becoming chickens? Enterprising retailers are probably lining up to meet the demand.

This is the same zoo that just euthanized its aging (and admittedly ailing) hippo, Papa. But if they’re in search of really good publicity, maybe a real-time (I was going to say “live”) euthanasia exhibit would boost attendance.

Connecting with animals is essential to improving the lives of animals.

Why do some people choose to be vegetarians? Why do people picket outside animal testing laboratories? Why do people campaign against wearing fur?

Because they have developed a connection to these animals.

My guess is that the Dallas Zoo is attempting to foster a relationship between these children and the chicks. By touching them and marvelling over them, they will connect with them in a way you can’t do on t.v. or in a magazine ad.

And eventually these kids will grow up. And they will decide how we treat our animals.

Sometimes you have to do a necessary evil to do an ultimate good. I suppose this is one of those cases.

Since animal rights is a subject that I have discussed recently with several people, I thought I would come back a third time and expand upon my original posts, only to find that Turbo Dog has already made some of the points I was going to make.

I would state that it should not be incumbent upon the zoo employees to mention to children that animals are going to be killed and/or used for food purposes. The idea of death can be very traumatic to children and as such, like most sensitive issues, is better left to a person that has an official responsibility over the child (e.g. parent or teacher). In addition I think it is a wise decision for the staff to hide the issue; if an employee were telling children “these animals are going to be killed” there would very probably be complaints from irate parents that their children were coming home with lots of questions about life and death after what was supposed to be an innocent and fun-filled trip to the zoo.

What would I tell my own children? (I don’t have any children yet.) I would tell them “The chicks are going to be killed and fed to other animals.” Of course when I do have children I will probably consult with expert authorities and my own impression as to the mental maturity of my children before I attempt to discuss death with them. Fortunately for me my wife teaches second grade (elementary) and will doubtless have some wisdom to share on the subject.

Probably the same number that, like my kids, want a giraffe, a lion, a meerkat, a polar bear, a couple of bats, an alligator, six ducks, a moray eel and a gorilla after visiting the zoo. These wonderful things would go well with two of everything in Toys-R-Us I’m often informed. Animals are like drugs. Just Say No… the kids will live. Should a parent break down and actually get them a chick… hey, Sunday dinner will only be a few months down the road :slight_smile:

And I have no problem at all with what they are doing. It does not appear that the chicks are bred specifically for the purpose of being cuddled, but as food for the other animals. Why not maximize their usefulness before they get the axe?

I really don’t see the issue, not at all.

However, I do have a problem with the existence of the zoo itself. While I understand the role that zoos play in educating, and the role they can play in actually preserving a species, I think they are largely cruel and unnecessary, and their very existence can foster some of the behavior they are supposedly trying to fight, such as poaching. After all, how many zoos are there in the world? 500? 5000? Where do the animals all come from?

But that’s a different subject…especially since we’re talking about chickens, which are about as cheap and easy to produce as one can imagine.


I greatly doubt that farm children were sent on the Grand Tour when Mom wrung a chicken’s neck (mitigated, of course, by the fact that, only a couple of hundred years ago, the average farm didn’t produce enough surplus livestock for the family to eat all that often. In fact, the phrase “a chicken in every pot…” – but I digress).

I recommend that we get some use out of people with undergraduate history degrees by having them research when 17[sup]th[/sup] century children were told the Awful Truth, viz., that Sunday’s dinner was scratching for worms in the yard last week, and that we do likewise.

Wellll…I was mostly reacting to a low-level peeve about the Eastertime hawking of chicks and baby rabbits as disposable pets. Seems like the zoo might be inadvertently encouraging this traffic.

Much harder to find giraffes and gorillas at the local shops.

But I do want a meerkat. :slight_smile:

The employees say the chicks are thrown in the dumpster. The zoo says they aren’t, only if they go bad. The zoo is trying to maintain PR.

Anyone out there have knowledge of what is fed to zoo animals? From what I hear most of them eat packaged food (Lion Chow and such).

To clairfy, I’m not saying the zoo is lying, just saying that the stories conflict and there is motivation to lie. I don’t know who is telling the truth.

For OpalCat–I realize that you might disagree with this:

Let’s say the chicks are disposed of after they have lost their “cuteness”. Believe me, this takes a week at best from hatch. They grow like weeds into fowl-smelling chickens. Instead of the dumpster as the final solution, would it be okay for the local University to use them for research?

One advantage of embryonic research in avian species is the fact that the embryo is in an egg. You don’t have to deal with maternal effects that are present with lab mice or rats. There is something to this model, i.e. no maternal effects.

The chicken, because it’s an agriculturallly important species, (meaning it’s the avian model in use, no matter how cute the chicks; and chicken meat is the most affordable for low-income households), gets attention. And so there is research on making the chicken more productive as an agriculutral species.
I wonder how people that are opposed to birth control and improvement in agriculture (which means aniamal protein) can say that the Earth can support us all with organic farming.

The human poplulation is in its Log growth phase, what comes next? How do vegatarians propose to feed the world?