Mesa: Friendly Hen Escapes Brutal World of Cockfighting

For most jungle fowl, as for most other animals exploited for human entertainment or consumption, life is nasty, brutish, and short. But it doesn’t have to be. Mesa is proof that each of these creatures is capable of forming relationships and experiencing joy.


Mesa is a “jungle fowl” hen who loves blueberries, visitors, and exploring. At our Southern California Shelter, she gets to enjoy all these things. Unfortunately, the vast majority of jungle fowl never will. This breed is favored by cockfighters, who subject their roosters to vicious, deadly combat and often keep their hens in miserable, dangerous conditions.

Even those who escape or are confiscated often face death. Most animal control agencies automatically euthanize cockfighting roosters, and many euthanize hens from cockfighting operations as well. Others, however, try their best to find homes for the female chickens. Our Southern California Shelter has formed relationships with nearby shelters in order to help place these and other animals, so when Orange County Humane Society recently found a jungle fowl hen in Costa Mesa, they reached out to us. Soon the little chicken was on her way to refuge.

Mesa was probably used as a breeding hen in a cockfighting business, producing roosters to be pitted against each other for sport, often with sharp knives strapped to their legs for maximum injury in the ring (a common tactic among cockfighters). Now Mesa lives among layer hens who have survived a different but also abusive background, confined in cramped cages, exploited for maximum egg production.

Raised in an atmosphere of violence, hens rescued from the world of cockfighting tend to be shy or skittish around humans, at least at first. Mesa is an exception. This ridiculously friendly chicken gallivants around the sanctuary’s courtyard, socializing with her human buddies. Sometimes she even tries to sneak into the office to beg for blueberries, and she makes it clear to any caregiver who stops for a chat that she would like some now, please. Mesa has also befriended John Wayne Jupiter, the sanctuary’s biggest rooster. Strolling side by side with her large companion, little Mesa couldn’t be happier.