Chuckie the Orphan

by Mychaelyn Griffioen

During the summer of 1995 I worked as a voluteer at the Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) in Bowie, Maryland, twenty miles outside of Washington, D.C. CWS is a nonprofit shock-trama hospital for orphaned and injured wildlife. Chuckie the Chick came to CWS as someone's discarded school project.

Chuckie had been born as part of an elementary school science project demonstrating how birds come from eggs. After he was hatched and school was over, the teacher no longer wanted responsibility for their class "experiment". So Chuckie was brought to CWS. Although CWS normally does not admit domestic animals, they made an exception for Chuckie and temporarily placed him in an aquarium until a more suitable environment could be found.

A week went by, and Chuckie was still at CWS. Things were hectic at the Sanctuary that week and a placement home for him had not been located. But no one seemed to mind. Least off all me. In fact, I was quite amused by the spastic little chick running ragged in the fish tank. I began to get attached to him.

About a week and a half later there was still no home for the chick. I named him Chuckie. When work was slow I would take him out and play with him. I'd let him wander around on the floor of the clinic. He'd tag along behind me.

I asked the director of CWS if I could keep Chuckie and take him home with me to Ohio at the end of the summer. She said, "Yes." So, I began to spend a lot of my time with him.

Chuckie was quite a tag-a-long. He followed me wherever I went; even when I would attend to work outside. Chuckie had to really hustle to keep up with my long stride. If he fell behind and I walked out of sight, Chuckie would start peeping up a storm unless I went back to get him.

I was surprised to find Chuckie would respond to his name when I called him. Even when I thought he was out of listening range, he would come flying around the corner upon hearing his name. That was a funny thing about Chuckie; he would respond to my calls, but seemed to ignore everyone else.

Chuckie spent almost the entire day with me. He went with me on wildlife releases and on trips to the grocery store. He stayed with me at work and slept in my room with me at night. At work he liked to perch on my shoulder or my head and ride around.

Chuckie went from fuzz to feathers in no time. A little later it seemed he sprouted a comb and waddle overnight. And then suddenly, the summer was gone, and it was time for Chuckie and me to go home to Ohio.

It was a seven hour drive but both Chuckie and I made the trip without too much stress. But we did raise some eyebrows when Chuckie and I stretched our legs in front of a Popeye's Chicken and Biscuit at a rest stop along the way.

Chuckie stayed at my house in Ohio for a couple of weeks, but inevitably, being a rooster, he started to crow. Since it is against city ordinance to keep farm animals within city limits, Chuckie had to go. He moved to a friends farm who keeps Chuckie as a pet along with four domestic ducks. Chuckie seems quite happy and is adapting well to being a farm boy.

Chuckie completely changed my attitude about fowl, especially chickens. He proved to me not only that they are intelligent and can be taught, but that they are loveable and can show affection in return. Chuckie is the reason I no longer eat chicken (or any meat for that matter). He has been a great friend to me.


Mychaelyn Griffioen is currently attending Kent State University. Mychaelyn will be moving to Bowie, Maryland in June, 1996. She will be attending the University of Maryland at College Park, working on her undergraduate studies in Biology.

For more information on United Poultry Concerns contact:
Karen Davis
United Poultry Concerns
P.O. Box 59367
Potomac, MD 20859
phone (301) 948-2406

For more information the Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary contact:
Diane Pierce
Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary
17308 Queen Anne Bridge Road
Bowie Maryland 20716
phone (301) 390-7011

For more on how Chuckie is doing
E-Mail: Mychaelyn Griffioen