(Photo by Michael Weber) Left to right: Students Alex Rumbel, Allie Battista, Volunteer Grace Amico and student Sara Galli are shoulder to shoulder in the "Brave the Cage" challenge by Animal Farm on Aug. 24 in the quad. Amico invited and joined the three students in the cage for the demonstration.

Sitting Hens

Animal Place uses human cage to address industry realities for hens
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Animal Place uses human cage to address industry realities for hens

Grace Amico, volunteer for Animal Place, set up a human sized caged enclosure on Aug. 24 at the UC Quad to challenge Lumberjacks to “Brave the Cage,” a one minute challenge to simulate living conditions for hens in the egg industry.

Amico has been volunteering for Animal Place, a sanctuary for farmed animals, in running the “Brave the Cage” campaign at Northern California college campuses.

“We’re about rescuing farm animals from neglect and abuse situations while also educating the public because we believe that education is really important,” Amico said. “When we do our campaigns, a lot of the time we don’t wanna be telling people ‘don’t do this, do do that,’ We want to give them the tools to make the decision themselves.”

The tool, in this example, was the inside of a giant chicken cage.

While most students were rushing along to class, the challenge caught the eye of students Sara Galli, Alex Rumbel and Allie Battista. The trio joined Amico inside the cage for the one minute challenge.

“I was up against the cage, so I was like I don’t want to touch these people anymore,” Rumbel said. “If I had to be in there for a while, it’d be pretty annoying.”

The cage caused students to reflect on much more than simply being uncomfortable.

“It definitely has a shock factor. It’s like, ‘what… I’m in a human sized cage’,” Galli said.

Student Lily O’Connell added insightful comparison for human needs.

“It sucks. And it’s really sad that we’re able to exploit animals,” O’Connell said. “They’re not given any rights and every organism deserves to be outside and breath fresh air and sunlight. The same thing with prisons for humans too, totally inhumane.”

Though students only had to endure one minute of an awkward uncomfortable situation, the hens that Animal Place advocate for don’t have it as good.

“For this cage, people are wearing shoes that hens don’t have, so like if people were to take off their shoes and stand on the wire floor, that would be more accurate as to what the hens are going thorough,” Amico said. “Hens in the egg industry, their cages are stacked on top of each other, so you have manure raining down from the top cages to the very bottom.”

Amico said hens also have their beaks cut, or are “debeaked” to reduce injury from other hens in the case of irritation or to fight for food. The only time hens are let out of the cage is when they’re being depopulated.

“It’s basically a fancy word for being killed,” Amico said. “Farmers will do this by gassing them or starving them and throwing them into a dumpster or landfill.”

Amico said she has been volunteering for Animal Place for six months. Animal Place is a sanctuary for those hens and other animals. More information is available at http://www.animalplace.org/.

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