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A Heartwarming Documentary about a Miracle Chicken


Dec 2, 2015

Move over, Esther the Wonder Pig! For a moment, the spotlight is shining on a chicken who is changing hearts and minds around the world. Her name is Penelope, and, against all odds, she survived a massacre.

Penelope, who almost died from Marek's disease, is thriving today thanks to her rescuers

Penelope, who almost died from Marek’s disease, is thriving today thanks to her rescuers

In the animal agriculture industry, chickens are typically stuffed into crates on the “farms” where they are fattened and shipped directly to slaughterhouses, where their short and painful lives come to a screeching halt. Not Penelope. She had the added misfortune of being sent on a treacherous detour – a detour that turned out to save her life.

Tens of thousands of chickens are held captive in crates with no food or water before being swung and slaughtered in a sacrificial religious ritual

Tens of thousands of chickens are held captive in crates with no food or water before being swung and slaughtered in a sacrificial religious ritual

Penelope, along with tens of thousands of other “broiler” chickens, was sold to ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, New York, to be sacrificed in an annual religious ritual called Kaporos. During the ritual, participants grab the chickens by their fragile wings and swing them around their heads three times while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the animal. After the ritual, a butcher in the street slaughters the chickens and dumps their dead – or still living – bodies into garbage bags.

Penelope's rescuer wore a disguise to infiltrate the community where was would have been swung and slaughtered in a religious ritual

Penelope’s rescuer wore a disguise to infiltrate the community where she would have sacrificed in a religious ritual

In his documentary short, filmmaker Duncan Skiles tells the magical story of how a brave woman, who stumbled upon the massacre, rescued a dying chicken, and, with the help of her compassionate husband, gave her a second chance.

Today, Penelope lives with her human flock in Brooklyn, just steps away from where she was saved. Like so many other rescued farm animals, Penelope has become an ambassador for all farm animals by showing people in the community that she is a unique and vibrant individual who wants to live.

After a short lifetime of deprivation and abuse, Penelope has learned how to trust humans

After a short lifetime of deprivation and abuse, Penelope has learned how to trust humans

Your Turn

Follow Penelope’s journey at Penelope the Chicken on Facebook.

Please join the Facebook page The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos to lend your voice and support to the tens of thousands of chickens who are stuffed into crates, swung and slaughtered each year in the name of God.

After a lifetime of abuse, neglect and deprivation, Penelope receives TLC from a (human) member of her flock

After a lifetime of abuse, neglect and deprivation, Penelope receives TLC from a (human) member of her flock


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