Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Mercury The Hen Finds Home Down South
Monday, March 22, 2010

Some people don't look at chickens as a high priority for rescuing or deserving of compassion and care, with billions being killed each year for "food" and millions suffering to produce eggs in the US alone. Others are exploited, tormented, and killed in cock fighting and humiliating rituals like kaporos.

At Empty Cage Collective (ECC), we recognize chickens as the smart, funny, sentient beings they are, and if we can give them a helping hand or a better life, we will certainly try. The fact is, chickens are just as worthy of ethical and just treatment as any cat or dog. For one especially sweet and lucky hen named Mercury, life is now what it is supposed to be. Dusting, foraging, and living with her rooster friend Doodle at Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary in North Carolina.

Mercury was found abandoned in a cemetery in Queens. She may have escaped a local live market where birds languish until being slaughtered for human consumption or was abandoned by someone who was "using" her for eggs and no longer had any use for her. Regardless, when ECC found out about Mercury's plight we agreed to take her into protective custody in order to provide temporary care and housing until a long-term home or sanctuary was found for her.

A volunteer staff member with Empty Cages Collective, plus 4 other native North Carolinans, happened to be taking a van down for the holidays and couldn't think of a better traveling companion than Mercury. After the 9-hour drive, Mercury and the humans couldn't be happier to reach their home. Once she arrived, it was like Mercury had always been there. She immediately covered her shiny black feathers with fresh dirt (dust bathed), started pecking for worms, and got to work removing debris from her new house. Seeing this picture, you would not believe she had ever come so close to something horrific happening to her. Her new roommate, Doodle, who was rescued after falling off a slaughterhouse-bound truck, fell in love at first sight and followed her everywhere. His natural chicken instincts were not as strong as Mercury's (he seemed a little lost until her arrival), but now he has grown into a strong protector, making sure nothing harms his beautiful hen.

We only wish all animals traditionally thought of as "food" were so lucky.

Mercury (right) with her good friend Doodle at Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary in North Carolina

ECC Volunteer Staff Member Kelly with Mercury During a Dust-bathing Session