Wonka, an Adorable Hen With a Lopsided Beak, Is Living Large After Being Rescued From Henhouse


Dec. 4 2023, Published 1:19 p.m. ET

A woman in the U.K. now has a "chicken obsession" thanks to having rescued Wonka, a disabled hen, from a commercial farm. The hen has a condition called cross beak, and was very unhealthy before Jade Cooper took her home to be a backyard chicken and live out her days peacefully.

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This endearing hen has sparked Cooper to found of a nonprofit to help chickens in the U.K. as well. Find out how Wonka was discovered and rescued, and how Cooper updates her adoring fan base regularly.

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Wonka was rescued from life as a commercial hen.

According to Jade Cooper's Facebook group called Wonka the Chicken, she rescued Wonka from a commercial farm where Wonka would eventually have been killed. The BBC reported that when Cooper rescued Wonka, the chicken appeared to be "days away from death" and that farmers hadn't noticed how unwell she was.

Now Wonka lives peacefully, and according to the Facebook page dedicated to the hen, is treated to frequent cuddles with her humans. Cooper writes posts as though Wonka herself were detailing her adventures. She shares life with four other cross-beaked chickens, per The BBC, some of whom have other ailments such as blindness, no feet, missing toes, and brain damage.

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Wonka the chicken has a disability called "cross beak."

Wonka suffers from the condition often called "cross beak" or "scissors beak," in which the chicken's top and bottom beak portions do not properly align, according to PoultryDVM.

A deformed beak is a serious hindrance to a chicken's life, since they use their beaks for many daily activities like drinking, eating, managing their feathers, and pecking.

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In Wonka's case, the cross beak deformity means that Cooper has to handfeed her. However, Cooper doesn't appear to be at all dismayed by this responsibility, as she tells The BBC that the hen inspired her "chicken obsession" that has also blossomed into her founding of a nonprofit group called Chicken Rescue UK.

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Chicken Rescue UK is saving chickens from life on commercial farms.

According to the Chicken Rescue UK website, its mission is to save hens in the U.K. who are otherwise doomed to being commercial egg-laying hens. The organization explains that by the age of 72 weeks (less than 1.5 years), egg-laying hens are no longer seen as valuable by the egg industry, so they are "sent to slaughter" and their lives cruelly cut short.

What Chicken Rescue UK is doing is helping to match people with hens, who the organization then rescues by purchasing from farmers.

The organization helps educate people on how beneficial it can be to have a backyard chicken or two, since you will gain a wonderful companion animal; the organization also notes that people can benefit from this by eating their hens' eggs.

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However, many animal activists who advocate for the rescue of hens believe it is still unethical to eat eggs even from a well-cared for backyard hen, for a number of reasons. So if you ever wind up rescuing hens — whether from Chicken Rescue UK or anywhere else — consider just letting your hens live freely in your backyard, rather than taking what is not yours.

As Animal Equality notes, about 75 percent of hens in the food industry are kept packed in small cages along with other birds. These animals are forced to suffer this way for their entire lives, just to produce eggs for human enjoyment. The hens are subject to various cruel conditions, such as living in wire cages (which can cut their feet), and male chicks are killed right away due to having no "commercial" value — and this is why organizations like Chicken Rescue UK exist.

Thankfully, places like Chicken Rescue UK exist, and it's wonderful that more chickens like Wonka can have loving and happy homes. Plus, plenty of vegan eggs and other egg substitutes are available as well, so there's no need for commercial egg production.

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