Feathers Rustled Over University Tradition

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A KSU tradition has a national organization upset and calling for action from the university president.

Monday night during the KU, K-State basketball game in Manhattan some KSU fans threw live chickens on the court.

PETA sent a letter to K-State president Jon Wefald today, asking that a "ban on the use of live animals at KSU events be enacted immediately."

"Any student who throws live birds on a basketball court should be thrown out of school," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "The primary purpose of a college is to educate, and apparently, some students at KSU could use a lesson in compassion."

PETA's letter to KSU President Jon Wefald:
Dear Dr. Wefald:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an international nonprofit organization with more than 1.6 million members and supporters dedicated to the protection of animals. We have been inundated with calls to concern from people across the U.S. who are deeply upset about the use of live chickens in a "prank" at the Kansas State University (KSU) men's basketball game on February 19. We hope you'll agree that this incident presents an opportunity to assess and alter policies pertaining to the use of animals at university events. We ask that a ban on the use of live animals at KSU events be enacted immediately and enforced rigorously.
According to reports, at least three live chickens were thrown onto the court by KSU fans during the introduction of the opposing team's players. One photograph shows a chicken splayed on the floor who is dead, injured, or extremely stunned. When given access to fresh air and sunshine, chickens, who are very intelligent and inquisitive animals, thrive and spend most of their time taking dust baths and scratching in the dirt. Subjecting them to deafening noise, bright lights, terror, abusive handling, and likely death for the sake of amusement at a basketball game is needless and deplorable. Surely this is not the image that KSU wants to convey to the public.
We understand that it is not always easy to predict or control the behavior of wayward individuals who may act in ways that are contrary to university practices and teachings. However, it would prove useful for the university to publicly announce its condemnation of the recent event, as well as the exploitation and cruel treatment of animals at university events in general, and to station employees at game entrances to ensure that live animals are not taken along to university games.
You may be interested to know that the National Hockey League (NHL) has dealt with a similar situation. There was a tradition among some Detroit Red Wings fans that involved throwing octopi carcasses onto the ice during games. The NHL and the Red Wings both frowned on this practice, and in 2002, the Red Wings' senior director of communications told ESPN, "Octopi are not permitted in our building, and they will be confiscated if they are found .... (I)f you are caught throwing one, you can be removed from the building and you will be subject to prosecution."
So that we may inform the many concerned individuals who have contacted us about this incident, may I please hear from you? I can be reached at 757-622-7382, extension 8285; via fax at 757-628-0781; or via email at JackieV@peta.org. Thank you for your time.
Jackie Vergerio
Animals in Entertainment Specialist