The Kaporos Rescues of 2021

A Retrospective by Jill Carnegie, Kaporos Rescue Team Coordinator for UPC’s Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos in New York City

“We truly have an extended network of human angels delivering above and beyond every year to make this happen.” – Jill Carnegie

Preparing our network of sanctuaries in every region of the United States

Every year we hope that Kaporos won’t happen – of course. As the week of rituals approaches in New York City, the intimate group of humans who make up the Official Kaporos Rescue Team put everything else in our lives on hold. Personally, I have to start that process about eight weeks in advance. And we all anticipate that our side of the work will continue at least three-four weeks after the rituals conclude. Fully a quarter of our year is 100% dedicated to this one effort in what has become the largest annual animal liberation in the United States. As much as rescuers face such violence, death, risk, and other horrors, it is the most gratifying project we could possibly dedicate ourselves to.

Just like every year, the folks on the team in charge of placement work year-round to cultivate and nurture relationships with sanctuaries and private homes across the country. The chickens used in New York City as Kaporos are Cornish-Cross chickens, genetically modified beyond any form recognizable as natural. Therefore, they require a different type of care than other chickens. The homes we partner with recognize these birds as individuals worthy of the best opportunity at life we can offer. Though they are bred to live only a month or two and will, for the rest of their lives, be prone to heart attacks and mobility issues, these chickens are also affectionate, extremely curious, and have the loveliest personalities.

In 2021, we were proud to welcome a new region into our network of homes: Hadassa Nicole DeJack-Reynolds, of Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary in Phoenix, Oregon, reached out to us, as she already provided top-notch care to five generations of Kaporos survivors. She was ready to not only work with a more organized rescue effort, but also to level up her sanctuary’s year-round advocacy from the Jewish perspective. Since the Offiical Kaporos Rescue Team is a formal part of the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, this partnership was inevitable. In forming this relationship, our rescue effort extended its placement network to every region of the United States, with the Pacific Northwest now included. In addition to this new community of sanctuaries, our placement team supported the homes we’ve worked with previously to increase their capacity and prepare them to take in 2021 survivors. By the time Kaporos rituals were set to begin, we had secured qualified homes for hundreds of chickens.

We are fortunate to work with a unique space in Brooklyn in recent years to set up our hospital and triage center, and this space and access to needed amenities is granted to us at no cost. With Tamerlaine Sanctuary and Preserve leading, and with the help of activist volunteers, our hospital was stocked and prepared to give those rescued their best chance of survival. This year, we accepted donated towels, sheets, and carriers from the broader community of folks who oppose the use of chickens as Kaporos, and the community did not disappoint! Along with invaluable donor funds, the Official Rescue Team was ready for the week of rituals, which started on a Wednesday night in September in 2021. By Friday morning, over 100 survivors had already gone through triage and were recuperating at our highly-skilled foster homes outside of the city!

Overturned chicken transport truck caught us by surprise

Chickens on Sidewalk

Then, the rescue crew was caught by surprise: A transport truck carrying chickens to Kaporos sites in Brooklyn had taken a sharp turn off a highway, throwing multiple crates packed with baby chickens into a busy street. Animal Care Centers of New York City had been contacted and NYPD was on the scene, but the Kaporos Rescue Team arrived first (with support from board members and leadership of Voters For Animal Rights). We saw dozens of chickens loose and scared and sprang into action to get them out of harm’s way. Trucks had to be stopped in the middle of the street so that activists could dive under them to retrieve chickens attempting to hide beneath. We also found dozens of birds who had died, some clearly dead from the impact of hitting the street, others likely already dead in the crates before the accident.

We rushed the victims to our hospital, and 14 birds had severe compound fractures and head wounds, requiring immediate veterinary attention. Our vet partners were on standby for Kaporos Week, so fortunately we were able to get them comprehensive medical care right away. ACC arrived at our triage site, and we counted 239 birds rescued. ACC managed to place 225 of the chickens with their partners, while the Official Kaporos Rescue Team assumed responsibility for the medical treatment and placement of the 14 birds at the vet. If our hospital and team had not arrived when they did, those critically injured birds would have suffered transport to the ACC partners and may not have survived. This collaborative work was appreciated by both groups, and will be explored further in anticipation of 2022 Kaporos.

2021 Kaporos Chicken Rescue Hens into Car

Daily chicken care actions through September 2021

Members of the Rescue Team were on hand at the daily Chicken Care actions, where advocates negotiated for the surrender of injured birds. Where possible, police were involved and helpful in getting several birds out. By the weekend, over 20 birds were receiving extensive medical care by our fosters, and nearly 400 others were either stabilizing in foster care or had already been taken to their permanent homes along the East coast by our volunteer drivers. On that Saturday, we also welcomed Anna Boarini of VINE Sanctuary, who would be staying at triage around the clock the remaining days of Kaporos. She joined Viola Agostini and Gabrielle Stubbert of Tamerlaine Sanctuary and Preserve who were also on-site daily as our expert caregivers.

The morning after the final (and largest) night of Kaporos rituals is one of our biggest opportunities to rescue birds. By dumpster-diving, finding loose birds at Kaporos sites after the rituals are over, and through relationships with a few of the non-Hasidic workers who slaughter at the sites, rescuers got over 100 more birds out of danger.

Shortly after the Kaporos sites were all broken down and the “grab” portion of the NYC rescue was over, we were contacted by activists in New Jersey who were overwhelmed with hundreds of birds from their Kaporos efforts. We took responsibility for 50 of the birds under their supervision. Most of these babies had open festering wounds and needed the qualified treatment of the caregivers we work with every year. We look forward to supporting the rescuers in NJ we helped this year with next year’s efforts.

In the weeks following Kaporos, our fosters went above and beyond to provide love and care to over 150 chickens while the logistics for the cross-country transport were finalized. At the end of September, Matt Marshall drove a large climate-controlled van with over 115 survivors from New York all the way to Northern California, stopping at multiple homes along the way to deliver the 6-week-old chickens to their permanent homes at last. He did this with no sleep for 2.5 days in order to minimize the transport time for the birds and keep them stable. Sanctuaries along the way also supported him and the birds with cleaning, refreshed water and food, and other necessities. Every bird was delivered healthy and energetic!

708 Kaporos Survivors

Official Kaporos Rescue Team accomplishes largest annual animal liberation in the U.S.

We broke a new record in 2021- 708 Kaporos survivors were saved, triaged, treated, transported, and homed with qualified people who understand the special care they need. The core Rescue Team itself is comprised of only about a dozen activists, most of whom have been rescuing at Kaporos for eight years. Year after year, this is the one time these skillful people come together, and the result is simply remarkable. The Official Kaporos Rescue Team accomplishes the largest annual animal liberation in the U.S. only with the incredible support of our partner homes, volunteer transporters, volunteers at triage, and the spectacular monetary contributions made by the larger community. The 2021 rescue cost over $20,000, not including the value of the spaces, goods, and hours donated throughout the course of this effort. Those costs were fully covered thanks to donations.

The only positive moments of New York City’s Kaporos do glow brightly - the hundreds of lives saved, and the unification of so many humans who love them. – Jill Carnegie, Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, December 3, 2021


United Poultry Concerns thanks everyone who generously contributed to the success of our 2021 rescue, medical care, and homing of 708 chickens who would otherwise have been brutally slaughtered or died neglected on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. We are pleased to report a balance that will carry over to our 2022 Kaporos Rescue Team’s operation.

Total Expenditures: $28,943.38

Total Donor Contributions: $40,927.11 ($15,197 Facebook + $10,000 Matching + $11,705.11 PayPal + $4,025 donation checks).