Meet Thelma & Louise
Most of us are familiar with the two spunky characters in the movie "Thelma & Louise" that fought off an attack and law enforcement in an epic adventure. Today I'd like to introduce you to a different Thelma & Louise, whose story may be different, but whose intestinal fortitude is very similar to the heroines in the movie.
Thelma and Louise are battery hens that were rescued last week by Jennafer Sperline, a Corpsman in the US Navy and a forensic phlebotomist out of the California High Desert. There were a total of over 10,000 hens 4000 white leghorns and 6000 red stars, that had not been fed in 4 days and were starving to death.
One of Jennifer's network of chicken lovers heard about the situation and had attempted to rescue the birds and move them to a temporary sanctuary for rehabilitation and eventual adoption, but could not afford the cost of purchasing the birds from the egg farm that was keeping them. He had sponsors and companies that had assisted with past rescue efforts, but for some reason, this time were not responding. Jennafer heard about what happened and came up with the remaining funds so they could procure the birds.
What are Battery Hens?
Battery hens are hens that are kept on egg farms in small cages. The cages are so small that they aren't able to lift their heads. They cram hundreds of these birds in one location and they are often fed a diet that includes ground baby roosters and hormones designed to increase egg production. Think of the "human batteries" in the Matrix and you have the typical egg farm.It is so disturbing that it ilicites a denial response in the human psyche. You physically feel the need to look away.
Thelma & Louise coming home from the egg farm
Thelma & Louise after 1 day of rehabilitation efforts
What they found when they reached the farm was indescribable.The condition of the birds after going 4 days without food and water in the hot California sun was heartbreaking. Jennafer was surprised that any of them survived. In a shed with nearly 800 White Leghorns, when all appeared to be lost, two painfully emaciated birds raised their heads and cried.
Jennafer's contact gave her the news about the about the two surviving leghorns, and she decided that those birds weren't going to the rehab center, they were going to become part of her family and were named "Thelma & Louise"
It took 3 days of intense hydration, infusions of vitamin B12 and round the clock monitoring before Jennafer started to feel better about their condition. The birds had been debeaked (a process where a portion of the birds beak is removed to prevent them from picking at each other in overcrowded housing conditions). They could not eat solid food and were too weak to stand. They would just huddle in the corner and cry.
"When I got up in the morning and saw Louise perching on the side of her cage I knew they were going to make it. She was doing something that she has never been able to do her whole life, perch, and lift her head. Seeing that gave me hope"
Thelma and Louise are not out of the woods yet, Jennafer plans on keeping them quarantined for at least 30 days to ensure they are healthy, and then work to integrate them with the other birds on her farm. When I asked about her integration strategy, considering the debeaking that Thelma and Louise endured, Jennafer was not concerned.
"Nearly all of my flock are rescues and they all have challenges that they need to overcome when they arrive." She fondly spoke of Mabel, who leads her flock and is a fellow ex-bat rescue. "Mabel will show them around and make sure they are integrated". She's the smallest out of all my birds, but she's got spunk AND she crows"
Jennafer has been rescuing hens and roosters for nearly two years now. She is closely affiliated with several rescue groups in California and is part of Facebookok page called "Battery Hen Rescue USA"
"I want people to know that you don't have run a 501c, or be a vegan to rescue birds. You just have to want to make a difference. Every bird that is saved has an impact. My hope is that Thelma & Louise will inspire other to seek out and adopt battery hens and give them a second chance at life."
Jennafer will be retiring from the military in the next two years and plans on opening her own rescue for ex-bat's in California.
If you are interested in helping you can message Jennafer on Facebook. Her page has a complete list of organizations in the US that can help place ex-battery hens with homes (note due to regulations birds are not able to cross state lines).
On a personal note seeing people like Jennafer make a difference in a bird's life warms my heart. By rescuing these birds she is helping to bring humanity back to the human race.
Thank you Jennafer and please keep up updated with Thelma & Louise's progress! I have some homemade pet shampoo on its way to you so the girls can enjoy a bit of pampering.