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Animal Writes

  • 29
  • Aug

21 Surprising Facts About Chickens

More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined, but if more people understood the complex nature of these interesting animals, they would probably hesitate before consuming their flesh or eggs. Here are some of our favourite facts about chickens:

  1. Chickens can distinguish among more than 100 faces of members of their species – who knew that their memories rival those of elephants?
  2. Chickens have full-colour vision, just like we do.
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    Inquisitive hens” by Peter Cooper / CC BY 2.0
  3. And they tell each other about what they see. Chickens communicate with more than 24 vocalisations, each with a distinct meaning, including warning their friends about different types of predators or letting their mothers know whether they’re comfortable.
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  4. Chickens have pain receptors, enabling them to feel pain and distress. Just imagine their agony, then, when they endure mutilations such as having the ends of their sensitive beaks cut off with a red-hot blade – with no painkillers.
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  5. Hens defend their young from predators. Next time someone calls you “chicken” as an insult, you know what to tell them!
  6. Chickens love to play and will run, jump and sunbathe when given the chance – yet billions of them spend their entire lives in cramped sheds with less floor space than an A4 piece of paper.
  7. Believe it or not, chickens dream just like we do. They experience REM (rapid eye movement) during sleep, indicating that their minds may be wandering far from the four walls of the factory farms where they are imprisoned.
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    Chickens” by vonguard / CC BY-SA 2.0
  8. They slurp grass like spaghetti. Yes, you read that right!
  9. Wild chickens lay only approximately 10 to 15 eggs a year during breeding season. The hens who are bred by the egg industry to produce eggs every single day often suffer from painful reproductive disorders and become exhausted after just a few years.
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  10. Research suggests that chickens are cleverer than toddlers. Hens have exhibited mathematical reasoning, self-control and even structural engineering.
  11. Chickens know who’s boss. Just like us, they form social structures, known as “pecking orders”, and all chickens know their place on the ladder. It’s only when they’re packed into sheds on intensive farms with tens of thousands of other birds that their social hierarchy collapses and stress leads to feather-pecking and cannibalism.
  12. Chickens originate from tropical rainforests, where they evolved for millions of years, and artificial farm pastures leave hens feeling vulnerable and exposed.
  13. Studies show that chickens survive a predator attack 90 per cent of the time while living in their natural environment.
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  14. Chickens are the closest living relative to the T. rex, though perhaps not quite as scary!
  15. Roosters will attempt to woo hens by performing a little dance, called “tidbitting”, involving moving their heads up and down and making a certain type of call. Female hens are also thought to be especially attracted to roosters who have a large wattle!
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  16. Chickens display object permanence – an understanding that when an object is hidden, it still exists. Even young children don’t have this ability.
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    IMG_1607” by Erica / CC BY 2.0
  17. Mother hens talk to their unborn babies, and they chirp back through their shells. Factory-farmed chicks never meet their parents because they are taken away as soon as they’re laid.
  18. They can navigate using the sun, which helps them find food and water and even know what time it is. Many chickens raised for meat or eggs, however, will never even see the sun from their dark, windowless sheds.
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    Chicks!” by Daniel Hall / CC BY-SA 2.0
  19. Chickens love dust baths and become extremely frustrated in factory farms when they aren’t able to clean themselves this way. The bathing helps to ward off parasites as well as maintaining feather insulation.
  20. Wild chickens survive for five to 11 years in their natural environment. Chickens raised for meat are often slaughtered when they’re just 41 days old – for “free-range” birds, this period increases to just 56 days old. Male chicks born into the egg industry are routinely killed as soon as they’re born.
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    Hello, baby chickens” by Willrad von Doomenstein / CC BY-SA 2.0
  21. Finally, chickens are ADORABLE!


Sadly, these intelligent, sensitive birds are subject to horrific conditions before they are slaughtered for food here in the UK. In one abattoir alone, up to 12,000 birds can be killed per hour, and that doesn’t even account for all the hens suffering in the egg industry. Please stand up for these insightful animals by taking the pledge to go vegan!

Images 3, 4, 9, 13 and 15: Jo-Anne McArthur /

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  • 27
  • Aug

New Research Confirms There’s No Excuse for Using Live Animals in Military Drills

Pressure is mounting on the Ministry of Defence to stop using live animals in horrific trauma training exercises for medics. The UK’s top army doctor, Brigadier Tim Hodgetts, the Medical Director at Joint Medical Command, has admitted that he receives letters from the House of Commons every fortnight asking why the UK hasn’t switched to humane, modern methods instead of needlessly mutilating animals.

Ever since we revealed how British personnel travel to Denmark and shoot live pigs to pieces in shady training operations, tens of thousands of compassionate people have been asking the same question.

Ask the MoD to stop using animals in training drills

Using live animals in these sick war games is deeply unethical and also not the best way to prepare recruits for the frontline. For that reason, 22 out of 28 NATO nations choose to use modern, humane non-animal methods to train army doctors.

We’ve just written to the new Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, to make sure that he’s aware of the most up-to-date research on this issue:

  • A study funded by the US Department of Defense (DOD) at the University of Minnesota found that medics who were taught haemorrhage control and other emergency medical procedures on human simulators were as proficient as those taught using animals and that both methods produced similar degrees of stress in trainees.
  • A DOD-funded study conducted by the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan concluded that medical staff who had been taught paediatric intubation skills on simulators were more proficient than those who trained on live cats.
  • A Canadian Forces Health Services study found that a life-like human-patient simulator was as effective as the use of live animals in teaching traumatic-injury management to military medical technicians.

These are only the most recent examples – for many years, study after study has indicated that medical personnel can effectively learn to save lives on the battlefield without shooting, cutting up and killing animals.

Please join us in sending a message to the Secretary of State for Defence asking him to put a stop to these cruel, archaic drills:

Take Action Now


Photos: Jørn Stjerneklar

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  • 24
  • Aug

The Great Vegan Bake-Off 2014 – The Finalists

PETA Great Vegan Bake Off2014 winner now announced:

We’ve been so delighted by all your terrific entries that it was almost impossible to narrow all the entries down to just 10 finalists. However, after much consideration (and drooling over the delicious baked goods), at last we have managed it!

Help us choose who we should name as the winner of our competition by taking a look at all the tasty treats that were entered into The Great Vegan Bake-Off, and let us know which your favourite is by voting below.

Without further ado, here are the finalists:

Laurianne’s walnut-and-coffee tartelette from 100 Days of Vegan Cakes

Laurianne's walnut-and-coffee tartelette from 100 Days of Vegan Cakes

Coffee-and-walnut cheese-less cake from Jennifer at PS … It’s Vegan

Coffee-and-walnut cheese-less cake from Jennifer at PS … It's Vegan

Juliane’s coconut, mint and lime bread from Veggiephile

Juliane's coconut, mint and lime bread from Veggiephile

Emily’s dark chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Lass

Emily's dark chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Lass


Ombre vanilla dream cake from Katy at Little Miss Meat-Free

Ombre vanilla dream cake from Katy at Little Miss Meat-Free

Hannah’s banana split cake from Hannah Banana Bakery

Hannah's banana split cake from Hannah Banana Bakery

Malwina’s chocolate-and-cherry cake from The Stories at the Vegetarian Table

Malwina's chocolate-and-cherry cake from The Stories at the Vegetarian Table

Annabelle’s double chocolate cake from The Flexitarian

Annabelle's double chocolate cake from The Flexitarian

Banana-and-walnut spelt loaf from Lisa at Thirty-Something Vegan

Banana-and-walnut spelt loaf from Lisa at Thirty-Something Vegan

Jasmine’s raspberry cake from Self Sufficient Cafe Jasmine's raspberry cake from Self Sufficient Cafe


Entry is now closed. 

We’ll have two weeks of voting, ending on 7 September. PETA will give equal consideration to two factors when choosing a winner: the total number of votes that the entry receives and our assessment of how tasty it looks. We’ll crown the winner in an announcement on 10 September! The winner gets bragging rights for being our choice for greatest vegan baker, along with the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from sharing his or her delicious recipe with the world.

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  • 22
  • Aug

Watch: Documentary Uncovers Shocking Secrets of Thailand’s Elephant Tourism

The feature documentary An Elephant Never Forgets follows the same path that thousands of British tourists take every year as they visit elephant attractions in Thailand. Joe Keogh, a comedian from Manchester, offers a great deal of insight into the living and working conditions of the many elephants used and abused in the tourism industry.

Joe uncovers the uncomfortable truth behind the elephants’ obedience and takes viewers around some of the local camps and zoos to convey a sense of what these magnificent animals are subjected to on a daily basis. The reality is very bleak, with numerous elephants swaying from side to side – an indicator of stress and ill health – and chained up with barely any room for movement.

The uncomfortable truth behind the elephants attractions

Documentary Uncovers Shocking Secrets of Thailand's Elephant Tourism

An Elephant Never Forgets - Thai Elephant Tourism


You can help!

The days of these cruel attractions may soon be numbered as companies stop promoting them. Travel agency Responsible Travel no longer promotes trips that include elephant treks or elephant performances, and STA Travel, the world’s largest student travel company, has pulled promotions for elephant rides as well as Thailand’s notorious Tiger Temple and SeaWorld.

Tourists today have so many fantastic opportunities available to them that it’s easy to have a vacation filled with cruelty-free memories. If you encounter any attraction that includes captive animals, walk the other way.

Around 800,000 Britons visit Thailand each year. Please help raise awareness of the cruelty of exploitative elephant attractions by sharing An Elephant Never Forgets with your family and friends.

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  • 21
  • Aug

LOLA’s New Vegan Cupcake Takes Over London!

Vegan cupcakes are taking over London – they’re even on the Underground.

Most Londoners will recognise LOLA’s Kitchen from their fashionable cupcake shops set up in high-end department stores such as Selfridges, stylish markets like Covent Garden and Spitalfields and underground stations such as King’s Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Cannon Street. But what they may not know is that Lola’s now offers a cupcake that everyone can enjoy, including vegans!

Baked using vanilla soya yoghurt and iced with a deliciously creamy vegan butter, LOLA’s Passion Fruit & Coconut cupcake is vegan!

LOLA's Vegan Cupcake

Just the one vegan cupcake is available at the moment, but LOLA’s has two more in the works, and we were lucky enough to receive a sample. Hopefully, all compassionate Londoners will soon also be able to enjoy a delicious LOLA’s Vegan Raspberry & Coconut and LOLA’s Vegan Strawberry & Coconut cupcakes!

Check out LOLA’s online at or stop by a shop next time you’re on the tube and give the Passion Fruit & Coconut cupcake a try!

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  • 21
  • Aug

PHOTOS: ‘Monkey’ Prisoners Call Out Air France Cruelty in London

All over the world, people have been standing up to express their horror at Air France’s shipments of primates to laboratories.

Today, the protest arrived in London.

PETA Demo in London against Air France Cruelty

30 PETA supporters gathered outside the Embassy of France in Knightsbridge, London, to make sure that diplomats and the public know how Air France is profiting from the torture of highly intelligent and sensitive monkeys.

Air France is the only major airline that trafficks primates for vivisection

Caged activist speaks out for monkeys

No other major airline still transports monkeys for animal testing. After learning how the terrified animals are caged, cut into, poisoned, crippled, deprived of food and water, infected with deadly diseases and killed by vivisectors – and realising how disgusted their customers were by this cruelty – all the others have stopped.

Please add your voice to the global movement against Air France’s continued shipments of primates to labs, where they will live in pain and misery.

Take Action Now

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  • 21
  • Aug

20 Years on, Tyke’s Intense, Tragic Story Will Still Leave You Shocked

Tyke was an African elephant at a travelling circus in the US who had been abused for years. Like most elephants in circuses, her life consisted of endless beatings and constant confinement.

Eventually, she snapped.

On 20 August, 1994, she was forced to perform in Honolulu. This is what happened next.

Warning: upsetting footage

Tyke’s rampage killed her trainer and injured 13 other people. She collapsed and died after being shot nearly 100 times.

Animals do not deserve to live and die as Tyke did – abused, mentally and physically, until they go mad from the frustration, loneliness and pain.Germany Tyke Demo

There are many other stories of animals in circuses who have turned on their captors. Just last week, a teacher was mauled by a tiger at a circus in Peru. In 2013, a tiger killed his trainer during a performance at the Circo Suárez in Mexico. In 2009, a bear who was forced to ice-skate at a travelling circus in Russia killed the circus manager. These and countless other tragic examples make it horribly clear that a circus is no place for wild animals.

PETA US has just successfully campaigned to get the Moscow International Circus to leave animals out of its shows in Honolulu this year at the site of Tyke’s last performance. But for many other animals around the world, the nightmare continues.

In England and Wales, until the government implements the promised ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, it’s perfectly legal for travelling circuses to keep elephants, lions, tigers and other wild animals, carting them around in cages and forcing them to perform.

Time is running out to outlaw this cruel practice during this Parliament. Please help – urge your MP to back the ban on the use of wild animals in circuses by supporting a 10-minute-rule bill on September 3.

Tyke Take Action


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  • 20
  • Aug

Belgium, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico City, Paraguay and Peru Have Done It. Why Hasn’t the UK?

Karina-and-her-drawing-of-elephants-in-Circuses-768x1024Circuses are no fun for animals – so three cheers to Mexico City for banning the use of wild animals in performances!

Last month, Mexico City lawmakers made the compassionate decision to stop lions, tigers, elephants and other animals from being forced to jump through flaming hoops, balance on their hind legs and perform other dangerous and bewildering tricks in front of a screaming crowd. When the new law comes into full force, circus owners who continue to use animals could be fined up to $70,000.

Behind the scenes, animals in circuses are usually beaten into submission by means of cruel training methods and kept in cramped living quarters, where none of their needs are met. This eye-opening PETA US video gives a 60-second glimpse into the reality of what life is like for animals in circuses around the world:

Sadly, the UK is lagging behind Mexico City and countries such as Belgium, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru that have also banned circuses that use wild animals. We’re still waiting for the government to deliver on its promise to make these archaic spectacles illegal in England and Wales.

A recent investigation by Animal Defenders International shows a miserable lion and tiger pacing up and down in their gloomy cages at Peter Jolly’s Circus in England – making it crystal clear that, while politicians delay, animals are still suffering for the sake of an outdated notion of “entertainment”.

Please write to your MP, asking him or her to do everything possible to make sure that the wild animal circus legislation is passed during this parliamentary term. Time is running out – and further delays could mean that animals will have to endure years more of appalling abuse.

Take Action Now



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  • 19
  • Aug

My Big Fat Vegan Wedding

I got married in Galway on the west coast of Ireland this summer, and it was the best day ever! And best of all, from the dress to the shoes to the food – no animals were harmed in the making of our big day. While the idea of planning a vegan wedding (or any wedding for that matter) initially seemed daunting, it actually turned out to be a piece of (non-dairy, egg-free) cake.

Vegan wedding in Galway

Walking down the aisle in style (and without harming animals) was no problem. I steered clear of leather and silk (who wants silkworms to be boiled alive for a celebration?) and opted for a little white cotton dress that was totally “me.” Barry found a faux-wool suit on the high street and ordered a pair of faux-leather brogues from Wills Vegan Shoes.

Happy wedding guests

Most of the guests were not vegan, so I really wanted them to say, “Wow, I can’t believe this is vegan!” – and they did! Crudités with seaweed “caviar”, fresh summer rolls, roasted tomato lasagne with a cashew cheese and soya chorizo and red velvet cupcakes were among the mouth-watering dishes served to our guests.
Vegan starter wedding reception
Vegan Roasted Tomato Lasagne
Vegan cupcakes

At the end of the meal, just when I thought I couldn’t eat one more bite, a vegan cheese board was presented (which I ended up devouring!). Friends and family raved that the food was delicious, and many even declared, unsolicited, that they would start eating more vegan meals because they were so impressed. For me, that was the icing on the cake.

Vegan Cheeseboard

Barry and I have everything that we could possibly want, so in lieu of gifts, we asked guests to make a small donation to a Galway animal shelter.

So does planning a wedding have to mean saying, “I do,” to silk dresses, pearl-trimmed veils and meaty main courses? Not at all! I hope my story will inspire other brides-to-be to say, “I do,” to a cruelty-free wedding.

Elisa & Barry

Here are the companies that helped us keep our big day animal-friendly:

Dress and headpiece: Anthropologie

Menswear: Faux-wool suit from Jaeger

Faux-leather brogues: Wills Vegan Shoes

Catering: Kai Café + Restaurant

Vegan Wine: Cases Wine Warehouse

For more vegan wedding inspirations, check out PETA’s resource page.

Photos: Christian McLeod and Mark Clinton

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  • 15
  • Aug

RIP Bingo – Another Orca Dies in Captivity

After spending 30 years confined to a tank, yet another orca has died in captivity. Bingo, a male orca at Japan’s Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, suffered from an inflammation of his lungs before passing away last week. He had been captured off the coast of Iceland in 1984 and never allowed to return to his family or ocean home.

Three orcas still remain at the aquarium: Stella, another wild-caught orca who once inhabited the vast waters of Iceland, and her two daughters, Ran II and Rin, both born in captivity.

Between 1967 and 1989, 54 orcas were captured off the coast of Iceland, and 47 of them have since died in captivity. The other seven still remain trapped in aquariums.

Please take action against the enslavement of sensitive, intelligent marine mammals by asking the Spanish government to return young orca Morgan to her home.

Rest in peace, Bingo. You are finally free.

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