Pluck Chicken From Plates to Protect Phillip Island Penguins

Posted on by PETA Australia

As the local community unites on a plan to protect Phillip Island’s penguin population from the avian flu outbreak, why are chicken flesh and eggs not banned from council menus, buildings, and events?

Avian flu isn’t some mystery illness we’re powerless against. It’s driven by the appetite for bird flesh. PETA has written to mayor Clare Le Serve urging Bass Coast Shire Council to implement a policy that would remove chicken flesh and eggs from council menus. Our letter reminds the mayor that every time they reach for chicken nuggets, breasts, burgers, or eggs instead of the plethora of readily available plant-based upgrades, they fund the confinement of animals in filthy conditions and, inevitably, the incubation of deadly pathogens.

It’s hypocritical for the council to continue to serve products that perpetuate avian flu outbreaks while claiming to support community efforts to protect penguins from the dangerous disease. Chickens raised for their flesh and eggs are typically crammed into confined spaces strewn with waste and the corpses of birds who have died.

Such crowding incubates pathogens that can “jump” to humans in what are known as conversion events. More of these events have occurred here in Australia than in China, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated.

If keeping birds in such grotesque conditions weren’t bad enough, hundreds of thousands of them are currently being killed in mass culls in an attempt to stem the spread of disease. For a community to come together to save penguins while its leaders consume chicken flesh is an example of speciesism, a prejudice based on species that’s as nonsensical as racism and in which some individuals are valued more than others.

In all the ways that matter, chickens are no different from penguins – to whom they are related. Both species are intelligent and curious individuals who feel pain and emotions, such as fear and joy. Chickens can distinguish between the faces of more than 100 fellow flockmates, and they form strong friendships. They communicate via some 24 vocalisations, see in full colour, and even experience rapid eye movement (REM) while
dreaming, just like humans do.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 and H7 strains of avian flu have been decimating wild bird populations around the world, and since May, Australian poultry farms have been ravaged by the disease, leading to the killing of hundreds of thousands of farmed birds in an attempt to stem its spread. The crowded conditions in which animals are raised for food are breeding grounds for such pathogens, and avian flu tears through densely populated, highly polluted chicken and egg farms just as swine flu originates on farms where pigs are confined amid their own waste. Aside from being highly contagious and deadly to birds, zoonotic pathogens can “jump” to humans.

The ad depicts a baby penguin running from a giant fork, and reads “Eat a Chicken and The Penguin Gets It. Factory Farms Are Incubators for Deadly Diseases Which Are Killing Wild Birds”.

Enough is Enough

We’re in the midst of a pandemic borne from our exploitation of animals, and this bird flu outbreak in Victoria is more of the same.

Eating vegan is the best way everyone can help subvert global pandemics arising from animal exploitation.

Every time we sit down to eat, we’re either feeding injustice or fighting it. You can help change our food system, protect the environment, and reduce both the inherent risks to workers and the suffering of animals by ending your support for the exploitation and slaughter of living, feeling beings.

Please, eat as if all our lives depend on it, because they do.