Bay Bridge chicken Chip reunited with owner, given new home

 

OAKLAND (BCN) — An intrepid chicken that tried to cross the Bay Bridge during rush hour last week was taken to her new home Tuesday, according the Oakland Animal Services director.

“Chip” became the butt of countless jokes on social media Wednesday as California Highway Patrol officers and Caltrans workers scrambled to contain the hen.

A CHP officer eventually caught her and she was taken to Oakland Animal Services, where director Rebecca Katz said Ken Houston, a local contractor and 2014 mayoral candidate, was able to verify his ownership of the hen.

Houston said he paid the $105 “bail bond,” or boarding fee as animal services calls it, to get Chip out of lockup. Three or four people had called animal services claiming the hen was theirs, but Katz said Houston was the only one to provide pictures of the chicken and detail how she had escaped.

Houston was on his way to the Stonehurst Edible Schoolyard in East Oakland on Wednesday with two hens in tow when he stopped by the old Army base near the Bay Bridge toll plaza to check on a contracting job, he said.

The chickens were two of four hens being donated to the schoolyard on behalf of the East Oakland Beautification Council, he said.

When he returned, the box carrying the chickens had tipped over and the hens had escaped. It wasn’t until someone called him to tell him one of the chickens was on the Bay Bridge that he realized it might be his. The other chicken with Houston has not been found, Katz said.

Houston was able to deliver Chip Tuesday to the schoolyard, he said.

“The kids were so happy,” Houston said. “It was unreal.”

The edible schoolyard serves as a “living laboratory” for students at the Esperanza Elementary School and the Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy in East Oakland, according to Suzanne Ludlum, the education coordinator at the edible schoolyard.

The garden, built roughly five years ago on Oakland Parks and Recreation land, hosts dozens of fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetable plants and native herbs, Ludlum said. They installed a chicken coop approximately six months ago and already have five chickens, with Chip bringing the number to six.

The garden not only provides organic fruits and vegetables for school lunches, Ludlum said it also teaches students about animal husbandry and the environment and creates a connection to the land. The chickens have an added benefit of helping with their composting, she said.

Although the hen reached her destination at last, Houston said it was a “bittersweet” experience.

“The bitter was it got out in the first place,” Houston said. “The sweet was that the mission was accomplished and that brought with it the beauty of being able to pick up the hen and deliver it to the kids.”

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