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This International Respect for Chickens Month show features a critical assessment of the film Chicken Run from our co-hosts on its anti-speciesist message and an encore interview with neuroscientist and expert in animal behaviour and intelligence, Dr. Lori Marino.
A Critical Assessment of the Film Chicken Run and its Anti-Speciesist Message
Chicken Run is a 1999 stop motion animated film produced by the British studio, Aardman Animations who are also the makers of Wallace and Gromit, with American studio Dreamworks Animation and French studio Pathé. Though it was Aardman Animations’ first feature-length production, it became the highest-grossing stop motion animated film in history, exceeding that of their own Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
The story is set on a Yorkshire poultry farm in 1950s England and focuses on the chickens living on a farm run by the human family, the Tweedys. Two chickens in particular, Rocky and Ginger, are tired of being repressed and knowing that they may face their eventual deaths without action, think of ideas in their flock to try to find a way to escape the farm.
The film shows chickens as living, breathing, thinking, and feeling beings with strong individual personalities and aspirations. It includes themes of corporate greed, animal agriculture, the shift towards industrial farming, compromised rights of farm workers, and the animals’ rights to live. While the film is appropriate for all audiences, our co-hosts speak on their thoughts as adults watching Chicken Run. If you do not want any spoilers, please watch the film first before listening to our views!
Chicken Run also has a new sequel coming out on Netflix, over 20 years later from the original, set to begin production in 2021. The sequel follows the ending of the first film and shows the changes since the plot line of the Chicken Run.
Dr. Lori Marino on Cognition, Emotion, and Behavior in Domesticated Chickens
Dr. Lori Marino is the Founder and Executive Director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy and the Founder and President of The Whale Sanctuary Project, with a background in neurosciences and expertise in animal behaviour and intelligence. The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy is a non-profit organization which focuses on bridging the gap between academic research and scholarship and on-the-ground animal advocacy efforts. Dr. Marino received her Ph. D. in biopsychology in 1995 and is internationally known for her work on the evolution of the brain and intelligence in dolphins and whales, marine mammal welfare in captivity, and the cognition of farmed animals through The Someone Project.
In 2001, Dr. Marino co-authored a study offering the first conclusive evidence for mirror self-recognition in bottlenose dophins. With her expertise, Dr. Lori Marino participated in several films and television programs including Blackfish, Unlocking the Cage, and Long Gone Wild which is the sequel of Blackfish.
Her paper entitled “Thinking chickens: A review of cognition, emotion, and behavior in the domestic chicken” was published in the journal Animal Cognition last year. She speaks to us on some of the fascinating findings from the recent research on chickens, both in terms of their stunning intelligence and their remarkable social and emotional complexity. This encore interview is originally from our show on June 30th, 2018.
Show produced by Elyse Jacobson and guest co-hosted by Leah Thompson and Grace Wampold, with web content written by Asami Hitohara.