Rapid City, S.D. March 28. – On Oct. 31, 2005, United Poultry Concerns (UPC) received an email complaint that Reptile Gardens, a tourist attraction near Rapid City, made chickens play “basketball” and “tic tac toe” locked inside slot machines; the birds were trying “frantically and pathetically” to complete the games, the writer told UPC.
On March 9 and March 22, UPC wrote to Reptile Gardens president Joe Maierhauser urging that the chicken “basketball” and “tic tac toe” games be eliminated from the company’s attractions when business reopens on April 1.
In a March 9 email, Mr. Maierhauser told UPC, “Just this past year we closed our trained animal shows” because it “seems the general public is no longer interested.” UPC said this is an encouraging sign that the public is growing more interested in what animals do naturally in their own habitats and in refuges that seek to reproduce more natural environments than in watching animals perform sterile tricks locked in cages.
UPC urged Reptile Gardens to honor its claim to educate the public about the animals it houses by closing chicken basketball and tic tac toe the same as it closed its other trained animal shows. UPC asked Reptile Gardens to develop alternative programs that teach respect for the relationship that chickens and other birds share with reptiles in the course of evolution.
“Chicken basketball and tic tac toe should have no place at Reptile Gardens,” said UPC president Karen Davis. “These games contradict the wholesome family outing image fostered by the company. No animal should be presented to the public as a slot-machine gadget.”
In response to an action alert, UPC members have been writing to Reptile Gardens urging that the demeaning chicken “basketball” and “tic tac toe” be eliminated as a tourist attraction.
Contact: Karen Davis, 757-678-7875, United Poultry Concerns, PO Box 150, Machipongo, VA 23405, Karen@upc-online.org
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. http://www.upc-online.org