June 3, 2010
2:37 PM

CONTACT: Farm Sanctuary

Meredith Turner, Farm Sanctuary, 646-369-6212,

Ducklings Seized During Santa Cruz Hatchery Cruelty Investigation Brought to Farm Sanctuary

California Shelter Director Leanne Cronquist: “If kittens or puppies were treated this way, animal cruelty charges would have been brought in this case a long time ago.”

ORLAND, Calif. - June 3 - Farm Sanctuary, the nation's leading farm animal protection organization, has revealed that the surviving ducklings at the center of a year-long cruelty investigation of the Cal-Cruz Hatcheries in Santa Cruz, Calif. came to the organization's Orland sanctuary. In May 2009, 88 animals were seized by the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority after an investigation that corroborated video evidence captured by an undercover investigator working with the animal protection charity Compassion Over Killing. Many were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized; however thirty-eight of the ducklings survived and were brought to Farm Sanctuary for ongoing care.

Video evidence showed a number of disturbing images of abuse including decapitated and mangled hatchlings caught in machinery, sick and gravely injured ducklings left to suffer for hours, one duckling drowning in a bucket of liquid waste, unwanted hatchlings treated like trash, and baby birds being tossed into buckets up to six feet across a room. According to Compassion Over Killing, the Santa Cruz District Attorney's office held the case for several months before declining to prosecute the hatchery for violations of state animal protection laws.

"If kittens or puppies were treated this way, animal cruelty charges would have been brought in this case a long time ago," stated Leanne Cronquist, Farm Sanctuary's California shelter director. "I find it appalling that even though California's state animal cruelty laws do not distinguish between companion animals and farm animals, that the Santa Cruz District Attorney appears to be taking exception in this case based on what the Cal-Cruz Hatchery owner claims is ‘standard' practice. If this is the industry's standard practice, then abuse is rampant across this industry, and law enforcement should investigate further."

Farm Sanctuary has found adoptive homes for many of the ducks rescued from the Cal-Cruz Hatchery through the organization's Farm Animal Adoption Network and continues to care for eight of the ducks at its northern Calif. Shelter. The organization is calling for justice in this case, asking for the Santa Cruz District Attorney's office to reconsider animal cruelty charges.

"We are thankful for the Santa Cruz Animal Services Authority's efforts in this case," continued Cronquist. "Our one consolation is that 38 of these birds found refuge, and we get to see eight of them spend their days laying the sun, swimming in the pond and enjoying one another's company as they grow up, free from abuse, neglect and an industry that treated them like trash."

If you would like to speak with Farm Sanctuary California Shelter Director Leanne Cronquist, please contact Meredith Turner at 646-369-6212 or

Beautiful photos of the ducks enjoying their life at Farm Sanctuary's Orland shelter are available to media upon request.

Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the "food animal" industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming.


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