The Most Misunderstood Being of All: A Tribute to Hank and His Kind Worldwide

Many years ago, what was arguably the most successful animal rights campaign of all time resulted in a 75% reduction in the consumption of veal. Humane Farming Association’sbaby broiler depiction of tiny calves chained in veal crates worked. Americans didn’t want to eat suffering babies.

Friends, the chickens we eat, called “broilers” by those that breed, confine and kill them, are suffering babies. Pushed to grow to 4-5 pounds in 42 days, they may not look like babies, but they are. The chickens you eat have lived 42 days in misery, squalor, and terror, and have been slaughtered when they still have their gentle “Peep! Peep! Peep!” and blue eyes characteristic of chicks. These birds are always white because their white feathers are indicative of the light flesh preferred by humans. We invite you to consider these truths when making your food choices.

Of the tiny percentage who escape the brutal end intended for all of these birds, many are fortunate to wind up at sanctuaries. Yet they are not nearly as fortunate as we humans who are privileged to care for them, know them,and love them. At CAS, we have known many remarkable white birds. From the gentle Consuela, who loved to sing along with the radio, to the comical, exuberant and affectionate Barbie, whose love for a sheep Rambo is described in my new book in a chapter titled The Audacity of Love, to Henry, whose companion of choice was a pig, chickens are very much individuals who communicate their preferences with absolutely clarity to anyone paying attention.


We lost one of these special birds just last week. At nearly four years old, Hank was an old boy. When Hank’s industry-induced size made walking difficult, he was moved from one of the chicken houses to a barn stall and eventually to the barn kitchen, where he slept in a safe enclosure at night, and during the day either patrolled the barn or rested outside in the sunshine.

As gentle and emotional as Hank was, his relationship with our Animal Care Coordinator was a rare and beautiful gift not only for the two of them, but for all of us who witnessed it. “We had an instant and automatic soul connection,” is how she describes it. We all witnessed Hank’s love for her, which he expressed in numerous ways including slowly mimicking her head movements and wrapping his wings protectively over her shoulders. She recalls Hank by saying, “When we looked into each other’s eyes, it was profound. Purity. Spirit. Love. I am so very grateful for all that he taught me.”

We will certainly miss our beautiful Hank. Thanks for the love, good boy. Thanks for the lessons. To our not-yet-vegan friends: we hope these words have some meaning.



Herd Around The Barn, Saying Goodbye


2 replies on “The Most Misunderstood Being of All: A Tribute to Hank and His Kind Worldwide”

  1. Thank you for the story and photos of Hank. I was lucky to have been caretaker to a rooster like Hank ten years ago. He passed away from organ failure due to complications common to his breed. He was a sweet soul and used to enjoy lounging in the hammock with me. I still miss him. I hope that in my lifetime humans will come to understand that the creatures we share this world with have an intelligence that is not less than ours but uniquely different and perfectly suited to their ways of being in the world. We have so much to learn from them. For many humans the only relationship we have with other beings is in eating and wearing their dead bodies. It is a pathetic disgrace to our species. Future generations will look back on our behavior and be disgusted and appalled.

  2. I’m glad Hank had a peaceful life. He sure was beautiful. Isn’t it funny how the animals we help give us so much in return? Your life was richer because of him. I hope everyone who reads your tribute thinks of others like Hank and ditches meat.

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