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.
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.
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.
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.
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.