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A Tribute to Hank and His Kind Worldwide

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The Most Misunderstood Being of All:
A Tribute to Hank and His Kind Worldwide

From Catskill Animal Sanctuary
July 2013

[Ed. Note: Also read Hank Falls for Jenn]

We will certainly miss our beautiful Hank. Thanks for the love, good boy. Thanks for the lessons. To our not-yet-vegan friends: we hope these words have some meaning.

Many years ago, what was arguably the most successful animal rights campaign of all time resulted in a 75% reduction in the consumption of veal. Humane Farming Association’s depiction of tiny calves chained in veal crates worked. Americans didn’t want to eat suffering babies.

broiler chicken chickFriends, the chickens we eat, called “broilers” by those that breed, confine and kill them, are suffering babies. Pushed to grow to 4-5 pounds in 42 days, they may not look like babies, but they are. The chickens you eat have lived 42 days in misery, squalor, and terror, and have been slaughtered when they still have their gentle “Peep! Peep! Peep!” and blue eyes characteristic of chicks. These birds are always white because their white feathers are indicative of the light flesh preferred by humans. We invite you to consider these truths when making your food choices.

broiler chicken chicksOf the tiny percentage who escape the brutal end intended for all of these birds, many are fortunate to wind up at sanctuaries. Yet they are not nearly as fortunate as we humans who are privileged to care for them, know them, and love them. At CAS, we have known many remarkable white birds. From the gentle Consuela, who loved to sing along with the radio, to the comical, exuberant and affectionate Barbie, whose love for a sheep Rambo is described in my new book in a chapter titled “The Audacity of Love,” to Henry, whose companion of choice was a pig, chickens are very much individuals who communicate their preferences with absolutely clarity to anyone paying attention.

We lost one of these special birds just last week. At nearly four years old, Hank was an old boy. When Hank’s industry-induced obesity made walking difficult, he was moved from one of the chicken houses to a barn stall and eventually to the barn kitchen, where he slept in a safe enclosure at night, and during the day either patrolled the barn or rested outside in the sunshine.

As gentle and emotional as Hank was, his relationship with Animal Care Coordinator Jenn Mackey was a rare and beautiful gift—not only for the two of them, but for all of us who witnessed it. “We had an instant and automatic soul connection,” is how Jenn describes it. We all witnessed Hank’s love for Jenn, which he expressed in numerous ways including slowly mimicking her head movements and wrapping his wings protectively over her shoulders. Jenn recalls Hank by saying, “When we looked into each other’s eyes, it was profound. Purity. Spirit. Love. I am so very grateful for all that he taught me.”

We will certainly miss our beautiful Hank. Thanks for the love, good boy. Thanks for the lessons. To our not-yet-vegan friends: we hope these words have some meaning.