As always, the memories were bittersweet, tinged with the nagging question of just why an animal who was so full of life had to die at such an early age. The answer, as always, is speciesism - the idea that it's okay to exploit someone and turn her body into a profit-producing machine, simply because she is not human.
Not long after Sia's death, I saw an advertisement for The Happy Egg Company, touting the idea that, because their hens are free to roam outdoors and lead supposedly natural and happy lives, it is okay to subject them to lives of enslavement and exploitation, regardless of the effects on their little bodies. The Happy Egg Co. even launched a deceptively-titled Hendependence Campaign advancing its ideas about hen welfare.
But because of Sia, I know better than to buy this lie. I know that just because a laying hen is free from the confinement of cages, she is never free from the prison of her own, rapidly deteriorating body.
I know this also because earlier this year, the animal rights network I organize with, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), conducted an undercover investigation of a "certified humane" Whole Foods egg facility - one that would have consumers believe that its birds are happy and healthy. What we found was suffering, mutilation, disease, and misery. Despite this company's claims of being "humane," the birds in there were no different from Sia. They all wanted to live but instead, knew only lives of darkness, confinement, and, ultimately, painful, early deaths.