Reva the Revenant - Our Chesapeake Chicken Rescue
Animal Stories from


Kathy O'Hara, United Poultry Concerns (UPC)
July 2016

Today, Reva not only walks; he gets around well. At times he is almost spry in his jubilation.

My husband Tom and I have driven across the 23-mile-long Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge in Virginia countless times. But Friday night June 3rd was a sight like no other.

We were heading out of the second tunnel when we saw it – white, fluffy, and on the road. A few seconds passed before we realized what “it” was. I can still hear my husband, “Was that a chicken?”

It all happened so fast. I was in tears. Quick! Turn around. Make a U-turn at the first break in the road, drive back through the second tunnel, then the first. Another U-turn through tunnel, road, tunnel!

Our plan: If the chicken was still there and not hit by a car, we’d slow down, turn on the flashers. I’d be ready with a towel, throw open the door, and grab the bird!

chicken on freeway
Cars whiz by Reva on the Tunnel Bridge highway

There he was, standing just the same, head stretched down and forward toward the oncoming traffic. I grabbed him!

This was not his day to die, and with that thought in mind, I named him Reva, short for “Revenant,” after the movie – a person who has returned from the dead or a long absence.

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Reva safely in the car

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Reva exhausted from his ordeal

Now – what to do with a chicken? Heading toward our boat at the marina on the Eastern Shore, we got a box from a liquor store and laid Reva in it with a towel.

I called a friend hoping she knew someone who wanted a chicken. A few minutes later she called back. Turned out an advocacy sanctuary for chickens called United Poultry Concerns was a mere 20 miles up the road on the Eastern Shore!

I left a phone message, and waiting for a call back, I made Reva a makeshift plastic water bowl. To my delight, he took several large gulps and even seemed to splash a bit on his beak. I later learned this was the first time Reva had ever had unlimited access to water.

On Saturday morning, Reva was still alive! A call from Karen Davis at United Poultry Concerns said she would take Reva, and that her sanctuary assistant, Holly Wills, would welcome Reva, Tom and me when we arrived. (Karen was driving to an animal rights event that morning.)

When we got there, Holly had a spot all ready for Reva on the screened porch with a bowl of food, fresh water, and a soft quilt. Holly said Reva probably fell out of the truck taking him to be slaughtered on the Eastern Shore.

Later I spoke with a woman who said she’d seen Reva on the Bridge that Friday afternoon, but didn’t stop. From her account, Reva may have been there for at least 2 hours before we found him.

We left UPC knowing that Reva’s story could not have a happier ending. He beat the odds. The rest of Reva’s life could only be good

Reva Today

By Karen Davis

Today is Friday, July 29th. Almost two months have passed since Reva was saved by Kathy and Tom that fateful Friday evening on the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge.

reva rscued chicken

By Wednesday the following week, I’d pretty much decided he would not make it. He lay sleeping in the kitchen.

What a surprise, then, when on Thursday, he showed signs of life! Within a few days, he was standing weakly on his legs, looking around. He started eating and drinking. He started following me around in the kitchen, stopping at my feet at the sink and the stove, sometimes staring straight up at me.

He cocked his face in a way that said he wanted me to stroke his throat and beak. As long as I did that, he stood perfectly still.

But a Saturday morning came when, abruptly, he couldn’t get up. When he tried to stand, his body spun backward and his left leg splayed out and I felt, this time for sure, he’s going to be lame for life. He was very distressed, and so was I.

But a few days later, Reva was once again shakily on his legs trying to walk. This time I decided to put hhim on Metacam, an anti-inflammatory pain medication prescribed by our veterinarian.

Chickens bred for the meat industry are almost always in chronic pain, overburdened by too much weight for their bones and joints to support. If Reva was in pain, this would cause him to sit all the time, weakening her legs even worse.

The daily dose of Metacam worked wonders for Reva. When I got home from the airport at midnight on July 11th and walked into the kitchen after being at the animal rights conference in Los Angeles for four days, Reva greeted me on his feet! What a homecoming!

Today, Reva not only walks; he gets around well. At times he is almost spry in his jubilation.

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A group of our hens gather to greet Reva

Kathy O’Hara visited us recently for the first time since bringing him here, and the interest Reva showed in Kathy suggested to me very strongly that Reva remembered his savior on the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge. He just couldn’t get enough of Kathy, and when it was time for Kathy to go, Reva tried to follow her out the door.

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Reva walking in the grass

Sad Update:
As a chicken bred to grow fast and huge, Reva struggled with his body, yet enabled himself to walk eventually, until he collapsed under his terrible weight and could no longer get off the ground or control the body he was trapped in. On Monday October 24th, our veterinarian Dr. Paula Cameron came to our sanctuary and put Reva to rest with a sedative followed by the injectin he never felt as he passed away, surrounded and embraced by loved ones.

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