Letter from a Pet Zoo in Israel

Pet Zoo Kibbutz Shiller – The Bird’s Eye View.

Hello everybody!

My name is Tarnegolita, and I am your fancy-feathered hostess for today in this guest post on Cecilia’s blog.


I will graciously guide you through your virtual visit to my home, a small private pet zoo in a kibbutz in central Israel.


This is Pet Zoo Kibbutz Shiller, where my friends and I live. It’s a pretty good home for us! It’s got food and water, trees to roost in, ground to scratch in and dust to bathe in. You can find bugs, weeds and seeds and fly larvae in the pond… What more can a chicken ask for? Of course, I don’t have much to compare to. I used to live in a small, dark cage together with my friends, Zita and Rachel, to provide people with my eggs. I’m a commercial laying hen – egg laying is my profession, you could say. Life wasn’t very interesting for us, until we were donated to the pet zoo, where we were allowed out of our cage to walk wherever we pleased. Now, my friends and I run free, peck and scratch in the ground, enjoy the sunshine and lay eggs wherever we want. We think it’s pretty amusing to send our guardian on an Easter egg hunt every day! 🙂


In those early days, it was just Zita, Rachel and me. We had all the place to ourselves. It was heaven! But then, they started adding all kinds of animals we had never seen. The first one was a strange, big chicken, who loved to bathe in the pond all day long. We didn’t get it. I mean, what’s wrong with dust-bathing? Rachel, who was older and wiser than us, told us that the funny chicken was a duck. A muscovy duck. His name was Shulman. He didn’t speak our language, so we didn’t have much to say to each other. Our guardian got him some friends, and he seemed happy with that. We still don’t really get them, though!

Next were even stranger creatures, with long ears, four feet and fur all over their bodies. Rachel said they were rabbits. The rabbits don’t seem to speak a language at all. How they communicate is beyond me. We do NOT see eye to eye with the rabbits! Sometimes, they are allowed to run free, too, and they are terribly rude. They will run straight through your flock, and don’t even listen when you give them a good peck to put them in their place. Rabbits just don’t care!


Slowly, the humans brought in more and more animals. Strange, shy little creatures called guinea pigs arrived, who constantly whistle and squeek. They are afraid of us. When one of their doors is open, we like to go and scratch in their hay, and they all run to hide. The quail are tiny little chickens who lay funny little eggs and make nice trilling sounds. Peafowl are big chickens with long tail feathers who are much more timid than they look. We have no problems with them. They keep raising their tails at us, but we don’t know what that means, so we ignore them. Live and let live, Rachel always said.


But the most alarming addition to the pet zoo were the guinea fowl. What our guardian was thinking when she got them, I will never understand! They look like harmless, polka-dotted chickens, but oh, how looks deceive! They are vicious. They chase us all over the pet zoo. Some of us are terrified of them. Not me though! They fly much better than us, too. They go wherever they want. The fence doesn’t stop them! And they make a frightful racket, chattering and screeching all day long.


Rachel used to say we should just stay out of the guineas’ way. No point in going looking for trouble. But I got so mad when they pulled out all of Ethan’s tail feathers! Ethan is my husband. Well, he is Zita’s and Rachel’s husband too. That’s how it goes with us chickens. Ethan might be small, but he is very proud and protective. The guinea fowl love to taunt him and get a rise out of him. They are so mean! Ethan was found on the streets by someone’s dog. That someone brought him to the pet zoo. My husband doesn’t like to talk about his past. “It’s over now, and that’s all that matters,” he says. I understand. Life and humans can be very tough on chickens.


All this chicken food and rabbit chow brought mice to the pet zoo. Lots of mice. We and the guinea fowl managed to catch one now and then, but it wasn’t enough. So the people brought in more four-legged, furry creatures. These ones were called cats. We were scared of them at first, but we realised soon that these particular cats were harmless – although you’ve got to watch your chicks when they are around! They are afraid of our sharp beaks, so they run away from us. Some of them are so intimidated by us that they don’t dare to stop us eating their food. We love cat food, it’s delicious!


So this is our pet zoo! Several generations of us animals live here now. Human children come and visit us. They love petting the bunnies and they also try to pet us, but we don’t really appreciate this. The kids get really excited when they see our eggs, and they also like collecting our pretty feathers. Our guardian teaches the children about us, because she thinks it is important that human chicks learn to respect animals, in a country where animals are often treated as either food or disposable toys. I must say, I agree. It was pretty miserable being a professional laying hen.

We live our lives here in this peaceful little bubble in Israel. We are chickens, so we don’t understand or have an opinion on human politics. Our guardian gets very sad sometimes about stuff that happens outside of our bubble. She cries about terror attacks or suffering children behind the fence. I don’t really know what that means. Rachel told me that it was kind of like us and the guinea fowl. We are very different and we don’t get on, but we are forced to share the same space. That sometimes leads to chasing, pulled-out feathers and pecking. When she said that, I understood a little better.

Rachel was very wise. Sadly, she was old and didn’t fly and walk very well. One day, a dog slipped inside the pet zoo and Rachel couldn’t get away fast enough. It was very tragic. Our guardian cried again. She cries very easily, we have noticed that by now. We chickens learned from this that dogs can be dangerous, but this does not mean that all dogs are evil. I will never forget Rachel’s last words: “Try to live together in relative peace with the creatures you share this space with. None of you have anywhere else to go.”


Shalom from Tarnegolita at Pet Zoo Kibbutz Shiller

50 Comments on “Letter from a Pet Zoo in Israel

  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful insight into Pet Zoo , and for telling of all the different animals that live with you. It was very sad to hear of Rachel's death but I suppose chickens are the same as humans 'when your time is up, then its up'. Mind you she might have lasted longer if the stray dog had not caught her.

    i hope you and your companions have a long ,healthy, happy life…and thank you once again for taking the time to write…..love from Patrecia in Bulgaria


    Sent: Monday, February 06, 2017 at 1:52 PM

    • Thank you very much, it’s nice to meet you too! Yes Rachel was a special soul, she was a great auntie to my chicks. Our guardian has forgiven the dog that did it – after all, he was only being a dog. But she hopes people will be more careful with their dogs around us small animals! 💚

  2. Naughty Peahen flirting with Chicken Rooster! That little tabby kitten just has to be named Sylvester Stallone or Rocky 🙂 Thanks for the tour, do you still have a blog? Laura

      • Oops pressed “send” too soon! It’s hard to write when you’re a chicken! 😉 The kitten is now all grown up, she catches many mice. Yes we have a blog, it’s called Pet Zoo Kibbutz Shiller! You can find it when you follow my name! 💚

  3. This is WONDER FULL…and i now will have Rachael’s view of things with me here in New Mexico USA. Her
    wisdom carries on and we need it now. Thank you very much for this.

    • I suppose Rachel’s words of wisdom will apply to all the world and all species! But particularly humans, I think… We chickens are fairly peaceful usually! 💚

      • Rachel’s wisdom reminded me of wise Charlotte (of Charlotte’s Web), whose Arachnid tribe is not known as peaceable.

        • Oh right!! 😁 No, but we chickens like to eat those 8-legged creatures! Everything is relative, a chicken needs to eat! 😉

          • And spiders eat each other in order to live, I suppose. At the end of her story, Charlotte was very tired of catching & eating flies. I will ponder all of this over chicken soup at lunch (Please forgive me, Tarnegolita.)

  4. This was the most wonderful thing I have read in a very long time. I always knew you chickens were smart and wise…especially Rachel! Now if only humans could heed her advice…how much better people we would all be and could live in harmony with each other..in spite of our differences.
    Bless all of you there!

    • Thank you so much, what a lovely comment! We chickens have many talents! 😉

  5. I am very fond of chickens. I admire the way they teach their chicks about the world, how they agree to be sociable together (mostly), & how the cocks joyously greet each day. When I lived with chickens I would consult a neighbor, a chicken psychologist & very wise like Rachel, whenever I needed to understand more. I will follow you,Tarnegolita, to be again in the pleasant company of chickens. Thank you for lovely, informative post from Israel. ~Judith in North Carolina.

    • Thank you so much, I’m very happy you enjoyed it! We chickens have our own wisdom! 🙂

  6. This had me laughing and then at the end I had big ol’ tears welling up in my eyes. I absolutely LOVED this post. Observing animals and birds (and reptiles and fish too!) is such a treat and we learn so much. I love how you tied this all together with human thought and behavior (or lack of it). Bravo to you for such an entertaining and important post about life. I’m going to head to your blog and click “follow” right now!! Thanks for making my day! 🙂 ~ Lori

    • Wow, thank you, I’m blushing!! Tarnegolita is hiding her head under her wing, but she deserves the praise, she’s a very special hen! 💚💚

  7. Oh I enjoyed this post. I learned so much–being inside the mind of a chicken helps explain which creatures they like and which ones are to be more or less avoided. I loved how the rabbits don’t talk among themselves much and run right through a flock of the chickens without regard. And I learned peahens are pretty vicious to chickens.
    It warms my heart to know there is a small bubble of a place where unwanted or abandoned critters can find peace and happiness. I’m very sorry about the dog. As charming as dogs are they can be brutal; it always comes as a shock.Thank you for such an informative, creative and heart-felt post.

    • Thank you very much! Yes dogs are inherently still hunters, but so are we chickens so I do understand! 💚

  8. Every time I read or hear about Israel, I will think of this sweet bubble!

    • This comment means a lot to me! Israel is so much more than just The Conflict, and I want to show this to people. Thank you very much! 💚💚💚

  9. Phew, Rachel is, or rather was, wise beyond her years. May her final words echo throughout all levels of this animal kingdom we are a part of. Thank you for sharing your life with us; it was a delight to read and I look forward to following your blog. Hope you’re having a great day. ~ Mame 🙂

  10. Alas and alack! I had many sisters and brothers on our homestead in the mountains in California, but they went the way of Rachael at the paws and teeth of an uncaring stray dog. We’ve never gotten over the fright and won’t go back into our henny-penny house! Now we have to watch out for the hawks – you see them and you just know “the sky is falling!” We here hope you there live a happy and long life. Rachael was a wise lady, from the sounds of it!

    • Oh that’s very sad to hear Sunny! I’m sorry for your loss! Fortunately we don’t get many hawks here, dogs and jackals are the greatest danger to us but I’m glad to say they can’t climb fences! Thank you, I wish you a long life too and may you find many bugs! Xx

  11. Dear Tarnegolita . . . Thank you so much for taking time from your busy day to write such a beautiful and meaningful post to us. We love the photos and the description. I think you are doing a wonderful job in teaching children about how all of you, different but the same, get along even if there are a few ruffled feathers at times. Live and let live, yes? May your place in the sun remain peaceful and happy . . . [wonder whether your beautiful name has a meaning – tried to talk to Mr Google [he’s nice!] but he did not seem to know 🙂 ! ]

    • LOL my name is a sort of wordplay on “chicken” – “tarnegolet” in Hebrew! My guardian’s kids watch the show “Paw Patrol” and there is a pet hen on that show called “Tarnegolita”. I look just like her, so I got called after her! Thank you for your comment, glad to know you enjoyed it! Xx

  12. Reblogged this on Pet Zoo Kibbutz Shiller and commented:
    I had a guest post published on a Cecilia’s blog, which I follow and admire very much! I’m very proud and so is Tarnegolita, so I want to share it with you! Hope you enjoy it! Xx

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