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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution March 18, 2003

World Week: Pigeons inherit the job of guinea pig from chickens

By Ron Taylor

Most of the "combat chickens" died, so the Marines of the 7th Regiment in Kuwait brought in pigeons. The Marines had acquired the chickens to function as canaries once did in coal mines. If a chicken died, it was supposed, the air was bad, meaning a possible chemical attack. But 42 of the 43 chickens on hand apparently died of other causes, from a possible outbreak of avian flu to dehydration in the desert heat. A chicken named Turkey Thunder survived but had developed a slight cough. The pigeons are expected to hold up better. "We'll release them in Baghdad," Lt. Col. Michael Belcher told The Associated Press, "like doves."

* ON THE WEB: www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usmc/7mar.htm

Copyright 2003, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution