A Texas chicken has received an honor few, if any, other birds get — a formal obituary.
A paid death notice for Big Mama, a 6-year-old Rhode Island Red, appeared on Tuesday in The Eagle newspaper, which is based in Bryan, Texas.
“Not many chickens deserve an obituary, but she does,” wrote Big Mama’s human family.
The obit said Big Mama initially had been raised in an apartment in Houston. Her previous owners took her to be euthanized in 2013, but a compassionate veterinarian instead had them relinquish their rights to the chicken so she could find a new home.
She was adopted by Stephanie and Gregory Sword and their two sons, who live in College Station.
The family says in the obit they were “hooked instantly” after seeing a photo of the bird.
Big Mama soon “discovered how beautiful life could be walking in the grass, being a member of a flock, and having 24-7 love,” the obit reads.
The chicken died in her sleep Sunday, at her favorite spot in the chicken coop, the Swords told local media.
Stephanie Sword told KBTX-TV that they never expected the obit to get so much attention.
“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,” she said.
Though many people write off chickens as just food animals, the birds are more intelligent and emotionally complex than some people give them credit for. Research over the past few years suggests that chickens can experience empathy, plan for the short-term future, and even perform very basic arithmetic, the BBC reported in January. Plus, sometimes they even purr like cats.