New York City is known for culture more than agriculture, but countless farm animals come into the city every day. Some are sold and butchered at live markets like the one just down the street from the Brooklyn offices of The WILD Magazine. When WILD Editor-in-Chief Giovanna Badilla passes the building, she sometimes catches a heartbreaking glimpse of the hundreds of hens, who will soon die there, packed into tiny crates. Many of these hens come from egg production facilities, where, after only one or two years, they are sent for slaughter as cheap meat, debeaked, in poor health, and bodies exhausted from the demands of the industry. Recently, one of these hens made a break for it.
When Badilla spotted the escape artist loose at a construction site a block away from the slaughterhouse, she called Joshua Katcher, editor of The Discerning Brute and a friend of Farm Sanctuary. Equipped with a dog carrier, Katcher and producer/director/writer Melissa Fornabaio soon arrived at the site to find Badilla and a colleague trying to corner the bird.
Understandably skittish, the little hen evaded her would-be rescuers, hiding in the maze of construction materials. The group, fearing for her well-being in the hazardous area and determined to get her to safety, persisted. As the pursuit unfolded, Katcher called Farm Sanctuary for advice. National Shelter Director Susie Coston provided guidance and, just over an hour after the pursuit began, the group ushered the hen into the towel-lined carrier.
While we were ready to welcome the hen, whom Badilla named Marjorie, to our New York Sanctuary, we needed to find her shelter for the night and arrange transport for her the next day. Luckily, animal advocate Ashley Lou Smith was able to offer Marjorie a place in her home. When the rescue party arrived, Smith scooped Marjorie into her arms. With this gentle gesture, the exhausted hen relaxed and nestled her head on Smith’s shoulder.
Marjorie made one more friend on her journey from New York City to Watkins Glen. We had asked activist and author Timothy Pachirat, who lives in the area, if he could bring Marjorie from Brooklyn into Manhattan to meet up with a transport headed our way. As it turned out, Pachirat graciously offered to make the five-hour drive himself. He and his daughters brought Marjorie all the way to the shelter, where we welcomed the hen into our Melrose Small Animal Hospital.
Upon examining Marjorie, we found she was heavily infested with internal parasites and began treatment. This week she was finally able to join one of our flocks after receiving a clean bill of health.. Curious and gentle, and quickly warming to her caregivers, Marjorie is clearly pleased to be here. We are equally happy to have her and grateful to all the friends who helped her along the way. After narrowly escaping a brutal death behind slaughterhouse walls, this tenacious chicken has discovered an abundance of kindness on the other side.