You probably already know my feelings about chickens. They are the most maligned, misunderstood, and mistreated animal there is. They are also the most magnificent. If you’re reading this, I’m going to guess that there’s at least an 85% chance that you already know that. To be an animal rights activist is to be an activist for chickens’ rights. These beautiful creatures make up over 9 of the 10 billion land animals slaughtered annually in the U.S. alone. Horrifying! And yet, for the lucky few birds brought to sanctuary, they can learn to trust again. Having met my fair share of rescued chickens, I must say, they are adorable. Smart, too — forming social circles and ordered communities. According to Farm Sanctuary, they even outperform dogs and cats on cognitive tests.
The National Museum of Animals & Society (NMAS) recognizes the brilliance and beauty of these glorious beings, too, which is why they are planning an online exhibit entitled “Un-cooped: Deconstructing the Domesticated Chicken.” According to NMAS, the aim of the exhibit is three-fold: “to explore our perceptions of chickens that shape our relationship with them, to examine the historical and current day ways we treat chickens, and finally, to discover who chickens truly are. This last component will be explored in part through a gallery of chicken portraits and brief stories or biographies introducing the public to members of this under-appreciated species.”
That’s where you come in, because you love chickens, too! NMAS is seeking chicken portraits and stories for this exhibit. As if I could love this project even more, it will make its online debut in May, coinciding with International Respect for Chickens Month. Here’s the tiny print, thanks to NMAS:
To submit an entry for consideration in this gallery, please send one or more high-resolution digital photos to abbie [at] museumofanimals [dot] org, accompanied by your name, address, phone number, email address, the chicken’s name, and a story or description that shows what makes this chicken special (please keep under 500 words). Entries should avoid use of props, costumes, and staged stunts. Close-up, portrait-type photos are preferred. NMAS reserves the right to decline any submissions that conflict with the exhibit’s standards. Submission deadline is March 31, 2013.
Below are some chicken images from NMAS — both current artifacts and a sneak peak into some of the images that will be part of this groundbreaking gallery.