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first freedom

FIRST FREEDOM

September 16, 2014

I thought you’d enjoy seeing some of the rescued battery hens as they were removed from their transport cages and placed in their rehab barn. It’s the first time they’ve experienced space, freedom… and hay!! You would have thought they were on an alien planet. It was gorgeous to watch them explore. However, one by one they did something that surprised us. It’s hard to see in this photo, but along the right side we used pool fencing to divide the barn in half, and protect the haybales. One by one, the hens wandered over to the fencing, and stuck their heads through the bars. My heart broke as I realised that’s how they’ve always experienced the world: sticking their heads and necks through the bars of their cages. That’s why they’re all featherless around their neck and chest. I kept picking them up, putting them back on the hay, and saying “You don’t have to do that anymore, you have room to explore here!” It took a little while, but they’re now scratching in the hay, checking out every nook and cranny, and pushing hay into piles to use as nests. It makes my heart sing. (Thanks to Vincent, John D, Edward & Louise, and the superb Auckland University Animal Rights group for creating this emergency “overflow” rehab area for the extra hens we rescued!)

hen float

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!

September 15, 2014

We were delighted with the battery hen rescue late last week. Angie arranged it, and since it’s near her she made several pickups. I’ve lost track of the large number she rescued. Loretta went down on Wednesday, and picked up 115. Jemma and I brought 72 of them back to Matakana. Kath & Bill went down and rescued 70. Then Adie came out of “rescue retirement” and went down on Sunday to get 62 more, 32 of which came up to us. (Thanks to Sue & Martin Riddell for transporting them.) Great numbers, fantastic, more than we’re usually able to rescue… but saving lives is addictive, and these hens were SO gorgeous and friendly and wonderful that we wanted to save them all. There were approx 347 hens left, scheduled to be killed today. I took a deep breath and said the most ridiculous – and best – thing I’ve said for ages: “Tell them we’ll take them all.” We were sooo excited – but when Angie went to pick up a load, there was a man onsite, killing them in front of her. She begged the staff to stop him, to send him away. “I told you we’d take all of them!” she pleaded. They simply said “It’s the nature of the business, and the man had an order”. Angie rescued 60 hens, then called me. We both had a huge cry for those hens that were so close to a good life, but were killed instead. Angie went back later in the day, and confirmed there were still 187 hens remaining. Our amazing team stepped up: Adie took another 22, Lorette took 30, Angie took 68 and we took 67. A massive thanks to Lorette for getting the hens and transporting them half way; to Stephanie for driving the second car so we could pick up our 67; and to Vincent, Louise & Edward, and the Auckland University Animal Rights group for constructing a wonderful new rehab area for all the extra hens. Now to find them all homes! I promise I’ll be following up on emails and enquiries as quickly as I can…

sarah hen

NEWEST MEMBER OF THE TEAM

September 12, 2014

Meet Sarah, who has kindly offered to volunteer one morning a week at our animal sanctuary. I’m absolutely delighted, because Sarah has worked in vet clinics, and already knows two very important things: 1. What we do an awful lot of is to clean, and 2. what we clean an awful lot of is pooh! Her first week she showed us how great she was at this, LOL. Her second week (yesterday) she was a massive help with the newly rescued battery hens. Sarah helped me to give each hen her worm medicine (orally with a syringe), and then cut their toenails. It might sound funny to give a rescue hen a pedicure, but after standing on wire for all those months and months, their nails have grown quite long. This can impair their ability to learn to walk properly, so we trim them right down. After that they never need to be done again, as their normal behaviours of walking and scratching will keep the nails down. Thanks Sarah, for your help… and welcome to the team!

greenie jacket

BATTERY HEN RESCUE TODAY

September 9, 2014

The morning of a hen rescue is always a mixture of nerves and excitement. Nerves, knowing that it’s going to be a long stressful day and we’ll see some awful things. Excitement, knowing that some hens will be freed from their miserable cages, and begin their journey to a wonderful new life. And if any of the hens we rescue today are defeathered, we’re delighted that we have a full drawer of new hen jackets to keep them warm. The adorable fabric (covered in cute chicks) was donated by Dayna Squires, and all the work to sew them was generously done by Margaret Hardwick-Smith and her daughter Ami, (and modelled in this photo by Greenie). Thank you so much!! Today we have a relay working to rescue and transport the hens. The newest member of our rescue team, Lorette Smith, lives about half way between us and the battery farm. Lorette is going to the farm with Angie to pick up 95 hens, place them in a horse float, and bring them back to her house. Jemma and I are driving down to meet Lorette, and will transfer 75 of the hens to our cars to bring them home to The Animal Sanctuary. We prepared the rescue barns this morning, and now it’s time to pack the cages into our cars and hit the road. Wish us luck!! (Another story of freedom is below…)

ethi

ETHI FREE AND FRIENDLY

Last year we received a very young tui that had been found on the ground. He’d probably been down for days, as he was emaciated and dehydrated, and near death. Named Ethiopian, this young tui fought hard for his life. My neighbour Jemma fell in love with Ethi, and took over his care while he was young. Once Ethi matured, he came back to us and was put into a huge outdoor aviary to learn to fly and become a wild bird. However, he had some feather problems which meant he couldn’t be released until he went through another full moult. Last week we decided Ethi was now huge, healthy, fully feathered, and flying really well, so he was set free. A few days later he appeared up at our house, and has been keeping us company ever since. He follows us as we’re working, and buzzes visitors and volunteers. We know that soon he’ll get the urge to find a mate and will go in search of her, but for now it’s lovely to have such a special friend! He especially adores my husband, Michael… and the admiration is totally mutual!

uni clean

BUZZING WITH ACTIVITY

September 7, 2014

Yesterday the Auckland University Animal Rights group held a working bee at our animal sanctuary. Because it was Father’s Day, we thought we’d only have a couple of people. Instead, 11 dedicated hardworking adults turned up, and they moved mountains! Among the many projects they accomplished was to strip & clean the rescue hen barns and decks (pictured) in preparation for the battery hen rescue we have planned for Wednesday. These wonderful people did everything on the list AND a whole lot more! We also enjoyed a great cruelty-free lunch together, with splendiferous vegan blackforest trifle, 2 flavours of cupcakes, and a coconut slice by Dayna for dessert. ‘Work hard, eat heaps’ is our motto! I’m so very grateful to everyone who came along… and thrilled that they have another one planned on 14 Sept, for those who missed yesterday. Woohoo!!!

sue chooks

THE FINAL THREE

September 6, 2014

The last 3 hens from our previous rescue went to their wonderful new home on Wednesday. I received this photo and note from their new “mum” Sue, which made me laugh!!
“Our 3 rescued chooks, settling in. So sad to see their condition but I’m sure it won’t be long before they have beautiful feathers! Oh and by the way, Craddock Farms, they are laying lovely eggs so stick that up your profit making cruel arses!! Thanks to Shawn at The Animal Sanctuary.”
Sue is referring to the fact that Craddock Farms want to build a huge new battery egg farm to cage 310,000 poor hens in South Auckland. NZers are clear that they want to phase out caged eggs,so this proposal is horrible news! If you want more details, visit https://www.facebook.com/banchickenlayercages

chockie crop

A NEW HOME & A NEW LOVE

September 5, 2014

Chockie, a rescued female rabbit who’s been living here at The Animal Sanctuary for 5 weeks, went to her new home on Thursday. Susan and her family offered to adopt Chockie after their beloved Pixel passed away, leaving male Kashyyyk all alone. Chockie wasn’t too sure about her new beau at first (after all, it was an arranged marriage!) but Kashyyyk was keen right away. Susan says Chockie is settling in quickly, and now they’re bonding through the bars. Soon they’ll be together – and since we had Chockie speyed, there’s no danger of little ones arriving. And the best bit is they have large areas to run and play in… no small prison-like hutches!! I miss Chockie, but I’m delighted to know she’s in such a wonderful and loving home. (For another happy rehoming story, read second story below.)