Who would do that?
Authorities in Miami opened an investigation after a young, live chicken was discovered with a photograph and other items sewn into its breast.
Earlier this month, a parks department employee discovered the injured hen wandering alone around Thompson Park in South Miami-Dade, according to the Miami New Times. In an email obtained by the outlet, the unnamed worker detailed the encounter, writing:
I offered some food and he let me pick him up. Upon inspection I saw he was injured along the knee bone. I didn't have much time and thought he probably wouldn't make it through the night, but he did. ... My friend the chicken lady [Katha Sheehan] stopped by today to help me take a better look, and we wound up finding the most odd thing. Someone had sewn into this poor live bird some kind of religious artifacts. Unbelievable that this bird was even alive.
The artifacts found include what appear to be a family snapshot, human hair and several drawings including one of a skull.
SCROLL FOR PHOTOS OF THE ITEMS
The bizarre nature of the case has led some to believe the bird was used in a religious ritual. The practice of Santeria -- which combines elements of Roman Catholicism with Afro-Caribbean influences and sometimes involves animal sacrifices -- is not uncommon in the area.
In January, a headless goat and several dead chickens found floating behind a South Beach luxury condo were suspected to have ties to Santeria.
Mercedes Cros Sandoval, a Miami-Dade College anthropology professor, told local station WSVN that the ritual most likely had Cuban origins.
"This is a magical ritual of Cuban origin," Sandoval told WSVN. "Probably, with the name 'Sarabanda,' which is a deity from the Congo area that was probably used to affect the relationship of these three young people [in the photo]."
Whatever the motivation, creating an incision such as this in a young bird is undeniably animal abuse.
"The animal was probably manually restrained, struggling, and in a lot of pain," veterinarian Marc Kramer told WSVN. "This is a living thing with a nervous system that feels pain like every other animal. It's not only an extremely cruel act to do this to any living thing, but it's also illegal."
Dubbed "Trooper" by its rescuers, the chicken is reportedly doing much better. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Miami-Dade Animal Services at 305-884-1101.