Founded in 1937, the Black Hills Reptile Gardens (www.reptilegardens.com) is a family-owned tourist attraction located 6 miles south of Rapid City on US 16. Open from April 1 - December 31, it has several shows daily with rattlesnakes, alligators, birds of prey, and many types of farmed animals including chickens. In October 2005, UPC received a complaint about the use of chickens to play “basketball.” Chickens were observed “each locked in small glass boxes being forced to do tricks in the boxes for food and provided no water.” They had “bare chests from rubbing against the wire to perform the tricks.” When a tourist puts a quarter in the slot, “a ball comes into the cage and the chickens must make a certain number of baskets with the ball.” According to the observer, “the chickens were trying frantically and pathetically to complete the games. Another chicken had to play tic tac toe.” A complaint to the owners was unavailing.
United Poultry Concerns immediately asked the Humane Society of the Black Hills to investigate and report on the chicken “basketball” and tic tac toe games. While noting that the chickens (when not performing) live in cages “stacked on large wheeled racks with metal trays between levels” filled with sawdust to absorb droppings, the Humane Society wrote back a glowing report on Reptile Gardens and its animal care program.
Urge Reptile Gardens to eliminate chicken “basketball” and tic tac toe from its tourist attractions, and urge the Humane Society of the Black Hills to use its authority to stop these cruel, demeaning, and absurd entertainments. The society’s mission includes “the extension of humane education for the public.” Forcing chickens to play “basketball” and tic-tac toe in glass cages to amuse tourists is not humane education: it’s animal abuse. o
Politely request written replies to your concerns.
Joe Maierhauser, President & CEO
PO Box 620
Rapid City, SD 57709
Phone: 605-342-5873 or 1-800-335-0275
Serena Heger, Acting Executive Director
Humane Society of the Black Hills
1820 E. St. Patrick Street
Rapid City, SD 57703-4142
Phone: 605-394-6906 or 1-800-580-HSBH (4724)