Creature Feature: Little the Silkie Chicken

Silkie chicken was donated to the museum in December of 1999 and originally lived in the farmyard with two other silkie chickens. In February of 2001, she was moved indoors to live behind the scenes as an education animal because of her good temperament, which is a common trait for the breed.
Silkie chickens are one of the oldest breeds of chicken and probably originated in China, although some people have proposed their origin to be India or Java. They probably came to the west via the maritime trade, and were originally recognized in North America in 1874. The breed is named for their soft, silky-like plumage. They also have other unique characteristics such as blue earlobes, black skin and bones, and 5 toes on each foot instead of 4 like most other breeds. They come in a variety of colors, and are often used in exhibition. In fact, silkie chickens are the most popular ornamental breed of chicken today. Their good, calm temperament also makes them easy to handle and are often used as pets or in zoos. They are not very good egg-layers, but their strong desire to brood makes them ideal for hatching and raising the eggs of other fowl, which is now a common practice for many farmers.
Our silkie chicken was originally named “Little”, but we just call her Chicken (yes, we love originality around here! haha) She is quite talkative with the keepers when they are around, especially if the keepers talk back to her (in “chicken” talk, of course). Often times her and Bugsy, the education rabbit, have exercise time together on the floor in the morning. She seems to enjoy having newspaper put down on the floor so she can scratch at it, and she spends a lot of time perching or looking at herself in mirrors! She also enjoys kicking around and “bathing” herself in sand, so we always keep a sandbox in her enclosure. She loves superworms and occasionally a small helping of apples or fresh corn. Currently, Chicken is the only chicken that we have at the museum, and the educators and keepers always have a lot to say about her!
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