Chickens in the News

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Features United Poultry Concerns in Primetime TV Show, Witness:
“Chickens Are People, Too”

“Karen Davis, a respected animal rights activist who loves chickens to distraction . . . undoubtedly holds the higher ground here”
– The Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 13, 2000

The Emmy winning filmmaker, John Kastner, pits UPC president Karen Davis against the poultry & egg industry in this hour-long documentary. Kastner and his crew spent 3 days filming at UPC’s sanctuary in Machipongo, Va, to create a “dialogue” between UPC’s philosophy and sanctuary setting and the cruelty and violence of poultry and egg production. Hatchery operators, chicken farmers, and catchers freely acknowledge their lack of sympathy for the birds they raise, debeak, catch, kill, and malign. The Canadian Mennonite farmer, Bruce, quotes from Genesis that “God Gave Man Mastery Over the Animals,” a mastery illustrated in graphic footage taken at his farm. Unfortunately, filmmaker Kastner indulges in overkill, both literally and artistically, gorging in nearly every scene he appears in on chicken and eggs. The show closes with him hearing UPC’s slogan in his head, “Don’t Just Switch From Beef To Chicken—Get The Slaughterhouse Out of Your Kitchen,” but he flouts this message and everything he “witnessed,” and this seems to be his message. (To date the documentary is not for sale.) (Watch on YouTube)

By contrast, the 43-min. video, The Witness, features a street-smart man who is changed by his experience. Eddie Lama, an architectural metals contractor in New York City, narrates how he went from being uninterested in animals to becoming an animal advocate vegan as a result of house-sitting a friend’s cat. His encounter with this cat opens his eyes and heart to the connection between a cat’s leg and a chicken’s leg, and more. Lama created Faunavision, a mobile audio-visual screen on the side of a van that he parks on busy New York streets. In one of the most compelling video sequences ever, we watch the faces of pedestrians change as they suddenly are confronted with scenes of animals being executed for fur. The Witness was awarded best documentary at this year’s Canyonlands Film Festival. It can be purchased online at for $20 + $4 shipping. To order by mail send $24 check or money order to: Tribe of Heart, PO Box 149, Ithaca, NY 14851.