Today we took the kids on a family outing to the Franklin Park Zoo in Dorchester, Massachusetts. It is a great medium sized zoo with lots of interactive exhibits. We had a fantastic day touring the zoo. As we wandered into the petting zoo and barnyard section, I had the privilege of meeting one of the head zookeepers in their chicken coop. Her ears perked up when she heard the kids and I start talking about our own backyard flock. She had as many questions for me about raising chickens in Massachusetts as I had for her raising them in the setting of the zoo.
Over time, the zoo has lost many of their chickens to age. It is incredibly difficult for them to replenish their flocks, due to quarantine restrictions mandated by the zoo. Fear of introducing disease to their numerous species of birds, requires that the chicken are housed away from other avian species for 30 days. Their best alternative is to incubate eggs. This way, they can be certain that outside pathogens are not introduced.
Currently, the zoo is down to two sets of bantam chickens, two roosters and two hens. I was lucky enough to meet them. They were quite cute to say the least, especially when the roosters both crowed as I got close to their girls. The zoo hopes to increase their chicken population come next Spring. It was very interesting to see how chickens live at the zoo and have been incorporated into this controlled setting. The only thing that I felt badly about was the fact that they did not have access to a good old fashioned dirty dust bath!
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest