peta2 Takes Innovative ‘I, Chicken’ Virtual Reality Experience to U.S. Colleges

New High-Tech Project Lets Students See, Hear, and Feel What It’s Like to Be a Small Bird Facing Trouble

For Immediate Release:
September 4, 2014

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Los Angeles

Most college students have probably never considered what it feels like to be a chicken, so peta2, PETA’s youth division—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—is rolling out “I, Chicken,” an innovative and high-tech project that immerses participants in a virtual reality (VR) where they can flap their wings, communicate with other chickens, take dust baths, and engage in other natural chicken behavior. peta2’s goal is to achieve what religions and cultures have been striving to do for millennia: to develop compassionate action for the common good. This project was made possible by a grant fromSimpsons co-creator and noted philanthropist Sam Simon.

At each stop on the U.S. tour, which launched at the University of California–Berkeley on Tuesday, peta2 will invite students to participate in the nonviolent, two-minute “I, Chicken” experience.

“Like all of us, chickens are thinking, feeling beings who want nothing more than to spend their days in peace with their families,” says peta2 Director Marta Holmberg. “Studies suggest that by allowing students to become a virtual chicken for just a matter of minutes, peta2’s ‘I, Chicken’ experience will catalyze many to stop eating chickens.”

“I, Chicken” couples the most cutting-edge VR hardware available—including wireless VR goggles, motion capture cameras, and a powerful computer—with guidance from leading VR psychologists in order to immerse participants in the experience of being chickens, inquisitive and interesting animals with complex social structures, adept communication skills, and distinct personalities. But as participants soon learn, life for the 26 million chickens slaughtered every day isn’t a walk in the park. On factory farms, chickens are crammed into filthy sheds and bred to grow such unnaturally large upper bodies that their legs often become crippled under the weight. At slaughterhouses, their throats are cut and millions of still-conscious birds are scalded to death in defeathering tanks.

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