In our society, chickens don’t always receive the respect they deserve. Humans don’t tend to place them in the same celebrated class as, say, the majestic bald eagle, or the graceful swan, or even the sporty-looking wood duck.
Blue jays are cheerful, peacocks are flamboyant, parrots have a great sense of humor. But chickens … chickens are well, among other things, edible.
At least one fabulous fowl, however, is getting a pretty phenomenal sendoff.
Her name was Big Mama — and to read the 6-year-old Rhode Island Red’s formal obituary, you’d think she was almost royalty.
Her loving human family certainly believes she’s worthy of a queen-sized tribute in The Eagle newspaper. And yes, you read that right: a formal obituary for a chicken.
According to the adoring and adorable writeup, the Texas bird was surrendered to be euthanized by her original Houston owners back in 2013. But evidently, it just wasn’t her time to fly the coop.
A compassionate veterinarian took pity on the pullet. Not long after, College Station residents Gregory and Stephanie Sword ran across Big Mama’s photograph — and the rest is hen house history.
The obituary indicates that the Swords were instantly smitten when they first saw Big Mama’s picture.
It goes on to explain that they took the charming chicken home so she could learn “how beautiful life could be walking in the grass, being a member of a flock, and having 24-7 love.”
It’s worth noting that some studies suggest chickens are not only intelligent, but empathetic as well. In January 2017, for example, Lori Marino of Utah’s Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy published a scientific review of chicken cognition.
The paper points to research-based evidence showing that chickens are not nearly as oblivious or unfeeling as many people might suppose.
And after Big Mama peacefully passed away in her sleep recently, the Swords decided to tell the world how truly wonderful she was.
“Big Mama flourished in her new life,” notes the family’s glowing tribute, thanking the bird for being “such a special part” of their brood. The obituary goes on to mention surviving flock members Bubbles, Runt, Ms. S, Funky, Lucky, and Blondie.
Evidence that people just do things a lot bigger in Texas? Maybe.
But according to Stephanie Sword, it’s also a gentle reminder to value every single creature.
As the adoptive mom recently explained to local media outlets, “We’re just hoping that the story of Big Mama will remind others that every life, even that of a chicken, is valuable and worth saving.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.