PETITION TARGETS: Oberlin Public Library (OPL), Friends of the OPL, Ohio State University Extension, Oberlin City Council members
Scraggly, newborn chicks sprawled and peeped helplessly under unnaturally bright lights and on top of white grating inside a barren incubator at a public library in Ohio, according to Livestream footage from the library and video taken and submitted to LFT by a concerned library patron.
The incubator’s transparent ceiling reflected people passing by or stopping to ogle at the defenseless inhabitants, who will never know the warmth or protection of a mother hen who would have cared for them in a natural environment. The concerned library patron’s submitted videos also showed just how close visiting members of the public were allowed to get to the vulnerable chicks.
The Oberlin Public Library, which has hatched the chicks on site for the past two years to reportedly “educate” young learners about the life cycle, is now facing allegations that they instead are teaching — and promoting — animal cruelty.
“These chick hatching programs are cruel beyond words, cheap ‘entertainment’ under the guise of ‘education,’ with not a hint of compassion or consideration for the chicks’ best interests,” a concerned library goer wrote to LFT. “Is that what we want to teach our children? Lessons in inhumanity? There is no need to exploit or hurt any animal in the name of ‘education.’”
The nonprofit United Poultry Concerns and animal welfare experts also have since raised alarm over the program, alleging that multiple chicks have been born ill or deformed due to human error and have died after not receiving adequate veterinary care.
Surviving chicks also reportedly have been handled improperly and taken to farms where they were slaughtered at the program’s end, although that grisly outcome seemingly isn’t part of the “education” messaged to children, according to a Lady Freethinker review of the corresponding curriculum.
Oberlin Public Library did not respond to questions from Lady Freethinker about how many chicks have died in their on-site implementation of the program, who could handle the chicks, or what veterinary care the chicks received. The library also sidestepped all questions about whether chicks were allowed to be slaughtered at the program’s end.
Instead, in an emailed statement, the library said the chicks were taken to “a farm,” that they were “confident that no animal abuse took place,” and that they had consulted regarding the chicks’ unspecified care with Ohio State University (OSU) Extension — which did not immediately respond to media inquiries.
An online resource from an Extension site, however, noted that incubators should be placed “in a location where there is not a lot of foot traffic” and that students “should never touch live chicks” given an ever-present possibility of salmonella.
Those recommendations could be easily overlooked given that the chicks are on prominent display, and a photo submitted to LFT shows a person holding a chick out to the person taking the picture.
Sadly, mistreatment, unexpected deaths, and exploiting chicks’ “cuteness” before disposing of the tiny beings like trash outside of the public eye is not uncommon in chick hatching programs nationwide.
Letters submitted to the library also note additional cruelties widely accepted in the agriculture industry related to chick hatching programs and chick rearing — including grinding up or “shredding” conscious male chicks, gassing sick chicks to death, and genetically manipulating hens to lay hundreds more eggs than they naturally would do — and the grisly means by which the animals are slaughtered — none of which appear to be covered in lesson plans.
The library director told Lady Freethinker the original idea for the chick hatching program came from a library patron and that a decision regarding the continuation of the program has not yet been decided for 2024 — showing the library is open to receiving feedback.
We must now respectfully show the library that thousands of people nationwide — including animal welfare experts and the library’s own patrons — are now speaking up for these helpless chicks and demanding an end to this inherently cruel program.
It’s crucial that the Oberlin Public Library take a strong stance against cruelty to animals and immediately end its chick hatching program.
Sign our petition urging the Oberlin Public Library to stop hatching chicks on-site, for city and nonprofit funders of the library to strongly condemn this chick hatching program and to not provide funding for it, and for the OSU Extension to thoroughly investigate all allegations of possible animal abuse and to also discontinue the chick hatching programs at all public libraries for the safety of both chicks and members of the public.