Spring/Winter 1998 Poultry Press
What's Behind The Hatchery Exhibit at the Museum Of Science and Industry in Chicago?
Complaints about a chick incubation and hatching exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, which is located near the University of Chicago on the south side of Chicago, led UPC to investigate. We wrote to the Museum and were told: "This exhibit has been a popular highlight at the Museum since the 1950s, helping the Museum fulfill its mission of promoting science education by giving visitors real, memorable experiences with real scientific processes and science information. In answer to your question, after hatching at the Museum of Science and Industry, the chicks are taken to the 'Farm in the Zoo' at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago."

To learn more, UPC member Jim Dunn visited the Museum, talked to staff, took pictures, then wrote to UPC: "The exhibit gets approximately 8000 to 8200 fertile eggs a year from Phil's Egg Company in Forrest, Illinois. The chick hatchery, which was started in 1954, is in the section titled 'Food for Life.' In one corner of this section is the hatchery. From the photos you can see that the hatchery is a 2-part affair. On one end is an incubator in which, according to a sign, they place eggs scheduled to hatch that day. After the chicks hatch, and their feathers dry out, they are moved to the other end of the hatchery. The chicks peck their way out of the shells and lie there alone on the metal grate."

According to the Museum's hatchery manager, the Lincoln Park Zoo picks up the chicks once a week.

UPC wrote to the Lincoln Park Zoo: What happens to these chicks at the Zoo? The General Curator wrote back: "While some chicks received at Lincoln Park Zoo become participants in educational programs, most are utilized as nutrition for reptiles in the collection."

The Museum of Science and Industry is misleading the public about the use and fate of these birds. The "science education" consists of conditioning visitors to view chickens mechanistically by placing them on display in a mechanical setting as they struggle from their shells. The "Food For Life Baby Chick Hatchery" masks an economic arrangement between the Museum and the Zoo. The purpose of the hatchery, in addition to promoting the use of poultry & eggs, is to feed captive reptiles while programming thousands of visitors to think they're having a "real scientific experience" with baby chicks who are going to the Zoo's "farm."

Photos by Jim Dunn

What Can I Do?






What Can I Do?






What Can I Do?






What Can I Do?

  • If the Museum is feeding its exhibit chicks to the reptiles at the Lincoln Park Zoo, it has an obligation to say so in writing at the exhibit site and in its fundraisers. The Museum solicits public funding. Express your concerns to:

    • Dr. James S. Kahn
      President-CEO
      Museum of Science and Industry
      57th St. & Lake Shore Drive
      Chicago, Il 60637-2093
      ph: 312-684-1414; fax 7141.

    • Letters Editor
      Chicago Tribune
      435 North Michigan Ave.
      Chicago, IL 60611-4041
      ph: 312-222-3232
      Letters fax: 312-222-2598

    • Chicago Reader
      11 East Illinois
      Chicago IL 60611-3581
      ph: 312-828-0350; fax: 9926

  • If you are in Chicago, visit the Museum of Science and Industry and complain about the Hatchery Exhibit as well as the Museum's heavy promotion of animal products--an outmoded program dating from the 1950s. Call Chicago-area newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations and ask them to do a story. Suggest that they contact United Poultry Concerns for comments, information, and interviews.

  • If you are a contributor to the Museum, stop donating and tell them you won't resume until they eliminate the Hatchery Exhibit and start promoting a healthy "Food for Life" diet based on vegetables, nuts, fruits, and grains. As The Washington Post Health Section reported in "Meatless Wonders" on February 3, 1998, "Well-planned vegetarian diets are increasingly endorsed by doctors, researchers and organizations such as the National Cancer Institute, American Heart Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and, most recently, the American Dietetic Association."
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