Urban legends used to travel at the speed of sound as
they were passed from one person to another across the back fences of
America. Nowadays, with the internet, false rumors travel at the speed
Last year Animal Rights Online's mailbox received
several letters from people asking about the cleaning product Febreze. A
rumor had been spread that it was toxic to dogs and cats and had been
the cause of several pet deaths. The rumor was false, but because birds
are especially sensitive, Febreze really should not be used around them.
The ironic thing about this tale is that Procter and
Gamble make Febreze and they do test on and kill animals. That is the
real truth that should prevent people from buying Febreze. Procter and
Gamble is not owned by the Church of Satan, however, which is another
urban legend that has been making the rounds for years.
Last week we received a letter from one of our readers
asking us to verify the truth of a story they had received about
Kentucky Fried Chicken. According to this recent rumor, the US
Government had forced the fast food chain to change their name to KFC
because the genetically altered, beakless, legless birds they grow in
factory labs cannot legally be classified as chickens.
An outrageous story, and false. KFC really changed its
name to downplay the unhealthy connotations of the word "Fried." The
ironic thing about this story is that the underlying facts are so close
to the truth...factory farmed chickens bear little resemblance to the
wild birds they are descended from. They are beakless, their beaks cut
off to prevent them from pecking each other to death in the crowded
conditions in which they are kept. They might as well not have legs;
they aren't permitted to walk or scratch the earth, and their legs often
grow into the metal of the small cages they are crammed into.
Here's a story I fell for. Some months ago I read a
story at a "strange, but true" news site about a parrot with a 300 word
vocabulary that was being allowed to testify in a murder trial because
it had witnessed the death of its master. In our last Animal Writes
newsletter of 1999 we ran a list of special events and achievements in
animal rights and welfare for the year. "Parrot allowed to testify in
Florida murder trial" was one of those items.
That list had been submitted to us from a vegetarian
society that is a frequent source of information for our newsletter.
When I saw the parrot item I thought to myself, "oh yeah, I remember
reading about that". It must be true then, right? Two of our readers
wrote us asking for more information on that story and I did a search of
the web. I discovered that the source of that tale was the April fools
issue of an online animal rights magazine. Sheesh. I apologize for
letting this slip into our newsletter as a news item.
I guess I just wanted to believe it was true. Parrots do
much more than merely mimic words spoken to them, they can answer
questions and express their desires. Studies by Dr. Irene Pepperberg at
the University of Arizona and other avian biologists have proven that
communication between parrots and humans is possible. However, a parrot
has not testified in a murder trial, not yet anyway.
Here's one last bird-brained story that is traveling
around via emails pretending to be true. This urban legend is usually
attributed to a real news service. This is one version I have seen:
According to the Knight-Ridder News Service, the
inscription on the metal bands used by the U.S. Department of the
Interior to tag migratory birds has been changed. The bands used to bear
the address of the Washington Biological Survey, abbreviated Wash. Biol.
Surv. The bands are now marked Fish and Wildlife Service because of the
following letter the agency received from an Arkansas hunter:
Der Sirs: Whil hunting last weak I shot one of your
birds. I think it was a crow. I folowed the cooking direcions on the
leg tag and I want to tell you it was horible.
Go on to
10 Simple Things You Can Do To Make This
New Century Better For Animals
Return to 9 January 2000 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright