Woman disrupts NBA game to protest brutal killing of 5 million US chickens

Woman sitting on floor with two men standing around here, animal news
Alicia Santurio wearing a t-shirt that read 'Glen Taylor roasts animals alive', tried to glue her hand to the floor during the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game, credit: TNS/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Animal rights activist Alicia Santurio wearing a ‘Glen Taylor roasts animals alive’ t-shirt tried to glue her hand to the floor during the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game Tuesday night. 

The basketball team Timberwolves is owned by Glen Taylor. Taylor also owns the factory egg farm Rembrandt Enterprises in Iowa, where more than 5 million chickens were killed within two days in March by a method called ventilation shutdown plus (VSD+) after a bird flu outbreak. 

VSD+ is a mass killing method where ventilation openings in industrial sheds full of birds are closed, and temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) are introduced. The birds die by suffocation.

The international grassroots network of animal rights activists Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) released footage of the mass killing Tuesday morning, showing the immense suffering of chickens.  

Investigators with DxE enter slaughterhouses and farms to document abuses. In the video made between 22-24 March at Rembrandt Enterprises, dozens of birds who survived the suffocation were still found in their cages, barely alive. The survivors died of starvation or were buried alive.

DxE filed a complaint on Monday to local and state authorities, supported by veterinarians, stating that VSD+ violates state law. Farm unions and animal welfare organizations have called the practice of suffocation cruel and unacceptable.

“It is insane to subject sentient beings to this [suffocation]. It is extremely serious. These animals will suffocate to death, while we are in the 21st century,” Muriel Arnal, president of French animal welfare organization One Voice, told The Animal Reader. At the end of March, France authorized suffocating chickens, ducks and turkeys as a way to prevent bird flu from spreading.

“We are risking our health when we cram chickens together in commercial poultry facilities like Rembrandt,” Mike Martin, a professor at the University of California San Francisco’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, said.

“As we’re seeing, close confinement promotes the spread of viral diseases among the animal population, which increases the risk of a mutation that allows a deadly virus to spread to humans,” Martin said. 

“It has happened before, and it is almost certain to happen again, given the omnipresence of commercial animal agricultural facilities,” he added.

Dutch virologist Thijs Kuiken said that the highly pathogenic, sickening form of bird flu (H5N1) emerged due to intensive bird farming. He explained that wild birds only carried the low-pathogenic variant of bird flu before. Kuiken said this mild flu mutated into a severe variant of bird flu in intensive poultry farming.

“We have to realize that the intensive way of raising animals, with a huge number of animals huddled together in one spot, is no longer sustainable for many reasons,” Kuiken added.

Since February, bird flu has been detected at farms in half of the United States, leading to the mass killing of more than 25 million birds.

The Animal Reader is a small independent animal news platform based in the Netherlands. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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