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February 13, 2017

Street artist Amitabh Kumar creates gigantic mural depicting the cruelty inflicted on hens in factory farming

Larger-than-life street art created to increase awareness of egg production methods across India

Humane Society International/India

  • Hopefully, the mural will generate empathy for the suffering of egg-laying hens confined in cages. HSI

Distressed by the cruelty inflicted upon hens in the egg industry, street artist Amitabh Kumar has created a gigantic mural of a caged hen. Kumar hopes the mural will generate empathy for the suffering of egg-laying hens confined in cages, and persuade the government to implement a ban on these cruel and outdated housing systems.

It is estimated that approximately 18 crore egg-laying hens are being kept in battery cages in India. Each bird has less living space less than an A4 sheet of paper. The battery cages are so small that the hens are unable even to spread their wings without touching the sides of the cage or other hens. These cages prevent nearly all forms of natural behaviour including perching and roosting, scratching and foraging, comfort behaviour and exploring. A typical egg farm contains thousands of cages.

“Seeing hens in battery cages is a sight we are all used to, but few of us stop to think what it means for the birds,” said Amitabh Kumar, who has painted murals across the country. “Through my work, I wanted to reverse the claustrophobic world of battery farms, where the beholder becomes imprisoned by the gaze of the hen, understanding what it is like to be a confined chicken.”

N.G. Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International/India, said, “We are delighted by street artist Amitabh Kumar’s support of our campaign to end battery-caged farming of hens in the country. The use of battery cages for egg production is barbaric. It is time that we start acknowledging the fact that factory farming heavily compromises the welfare of hens and work on introducing policies that will protect thousands of egg-laying hens in our country from extreme cruelty.”

In 2012, the Animal Welfare Board of India passed a resolution and recommended that the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Union of India adopt the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hen) Rules and phase out battery cages for egg-laying hens by January 2017. However, the policy is yet to be adopted.

In addition to animal abuse, a landmark two-year study released by the prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production concluded that intensive confinement facilities pose unacceptable risks to public health and the environment. Other studies have shown that the crowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions typical of these systems facilitate the transfer of disease-causing pathogens through the flock, including the avian influenza ("bird flu") virus.

HSI/India seeks to raise awareness about the conditions under which animals in India are reared, and to empower people to live more compassionate and sustainable lives.

Media contact: Navamita Mukherjee, +91 9985472760, nmukherjee@hsi.org

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