Forcing chickens to play basketball is not a humane way to treat them, no matter what kind of rationalization is attempted. Chickens are foraging animals. They belong on the ground, scratching the earth, taking sun baths and dust baths . . . and running around.”
--UPC President Karen Davis quoted in “Group wants Reptile Gardens to abandon chicken games,” by Scott Aust, Rapid City Journal, April 9, 2006
In the last issue of Poultry Press we reported that Reptile Gardens, a tourist attraction 6 miles south of Rapid City, South Dakota, forces chickens to play “basketball” and tic tac toe locked inside slot machines. 300,000 visitors are exposed to this inhumane spectacle each year between April and December. According to Roadsideamerica.com, an online tourist guide, “The chickens sit in glass-fronted boxes and perform whenever passersby deposit quarters.” In an email to United Poultry Concerns, a woman quoted her mother who complained that the chickens she watched last year at Reptile Gardens were trying “frantically and pathetically” to complete the games.
In March, UPC wrote to Reptile Gardens president Joe Maierhauser urging that the chicken games be eliminated from the company’s attractions. In response Mr. Maierhauser wrote back that “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.
UPC’s protest was covered in Roadsideamerica.com on May 5. According to the article, UPC “believes that no animals should be on exhibit, period, and that if humans want to watch animals they should do so via closed-circuit video, which would allow the animals to live in natural settings. ‘[Reptile Gardens] can upgrade. Great big screens of reptiles and other animals in their natural habitats, photographed by professionals – that would be great . . . instead of falling back on a mechanical contraption that just shows a level of [human] imbecility.’”
- Urge Reptile Gardens to discontinue its chicken “basketball” and tic tac toe games. In an email to UPC, Reptile Gardens president Joe Maierhauser wrote that today’s generations “want more computerized, video-based, animated entertainment” and that Reptile Gardens has “been discussing some of the legitimate comments” they’ve received, noting that ‘[t]hings that have been acceptable practice in years gone by would not meet today’s lowest standards.” That fits chicken basketball and the like to a tee.
Joe Maierhauser, President & CEO
PO Box 620
Rapid City, SD 57709 USA
Phone: 605-342-5873 or 1-800-335-0275