Rubber chicken survives CFIA cull

The Globe and Mail
June 5, 2004
By Rod Mickleburgh

VANCOUVER -- The phone call to Norden the Magician came out of the blue.

It was the CFIA. "Who the heck is that?" Mike Norden thought.

As the conversation proceeded, he finally realized it was the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, not the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and they wanted to talk to him about Rufus.

In fact, they wanted to put Rufus on a death list.

Trolling B.C.'s Fraser Valley for every last chicken that might have to be sacrificed in the fight against the spread of avian flu, the CFIA had come across Mike Norden's website. And Rufus.

On the website, the whimsical magician noted that Rufus the chicken was a "live" performer in his magic show.

Rufus would have to go, Mr. Norden was told over the telephone. There were no exemptions for back-yard chickens in the sweeping cull that claimed millions of birds this spring, the CFIA man said.

But this time, the CFIA did not get their chicken. Rufus, it turned out, much like the expired parrot in the Monty Python sketch, did not have enough life in him to be killed. He was and is made of rubber.

"I told him that Rufus was a fake, a rubber chicken bought for five dollars. . .," Mr. Norden recalled. "There was a long silence."

Rufus was reprieved and remains very much part of the show.