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Meet Peanut, the world's oldest chicken


You know that old phrase often applied to someone not as young as they used to be, that they are no spring chicken? Well, it could be fairly applied to Peanut. She is 21 years young, lives on a farm in Waterloo, Mich. And we learned via The Washington Post that Peanut, who is a bantam hen, has been officially crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest living chicken. For more, we have reached out to Marsi Parker Darwin, who is Peanut's guardian. Hi, there and welcome.

MARSI PARKER DARWIN: Thank you very much. This is really fun.

KELLY: It is indeed. I want to start at the other end of Peanut's life, which I gather was not easy. Describe how you first met her.

DARWIN: Yes. I found her egg in an abandoned nest. Her mother had hatched several chicks and was busy with them. And the egg was cold and, I assumed, dead. So I walked down to our pond to pitch it in the water where it wouldn't attract animals. And just as I was about to pitch it into the water, I thought I heard a noise. And I held the egg up to my ear, and sure enough, the egg was chirping.

KELLY: (Gasp).

DARWIN: And against all odds - because I'm sure it had been sitting in the nest for at least a day - it was cold to the touch, but somebody was alive and well inside. And so I just decided I had to peel it out, and so that I did.

KELLY: You cracked the egg, huh.

DARWIN: Yup. She was kind of a wrinkled up, little, wadded up mess in my hand. And I couldn't believe it. She was moving and alive. And I didn't think she had much of a chance, which, to me, is so ironic, you know?

KELLY: Yeah.

DARWIN: And then she lives all these years.

KELLY: Yeah.

DARWIN: But (laughter) - so I guess, I don't know. It just means we have to give everybody a chance. I don't know.

KELLY: How does one go about proving to Guinness recordkeepers that you have the world's oldest living chicken?

DARWIN: Well, I take a lot of pictures. Obviously, I guess they had to give me a little benefit of the doubt because - how do you prove that all those pictures are the same chicken? She has some speckles, and she's a golden brown. So she was very distinctive looking and with a black tail. I took pictures from day one practically, but through the years. And I photographed her with my nieces and nephews that love to hold her. She loves to be held. So she's just really an attention-monger.

KELLY: (Laughter).

DARWIN: So I had a lot of pictures of a lot of people holding her, including a friend of ours who moved out to California for 18 years. And when he came back, he could not believe that Peanut was still alive...

KELLY: I bet.

DARWIN: ...Because she seemed to recognize him and jumped right up on him like she always did. And then I have a picture that was marked on the back, 3-year-old Maya (ph) with 3-year-old Peanut. And Maya is now in the army in her 20s. So things like that. And we...

KELLY: So you could see all these children getting older in the pictures and the chicken's...

DARWIN: Right.

KELLY: ...Still the chicken. It's still there.

DARWIN: And Peanut just kind of stayed the same.

KELLY: Yeah. I mentioned that Peanut is the oldest living chicken. The record of oldest ever is held by a chicken named Muffy, who was 23 when she died back in 2011. Where would you rate the...

DARWIN: Correct.

KELLY: ...Chances of Peanut holding on and breaking that record?

DARWIN: I'm hoping (laughter). I'm really hoping. She doesn't show - I mean, she's arthritic. She dotters around a bit, and she falls over now and then. But so do I, you know?

KELLY: (Laughter).

DARWIN: So I think she's going to be fine. She just loves all this attention. She makes a lot of noises. And I have a parrot that calls her name, Peanut, when she's in the living room. And she jerks her head around. She knows who she is. And I have high hopes that she may hang on for a while.

KELLY: Well, I, for one, will be rooting for her and for you.

DARWIN: (Laughter) Thank you.

KELLY: We've been speaking with Marsi Parker Darwin of Darwin's Eden, a farm in Waterloo, Mich. Thank you.

DARWIN: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAREN MORRIS SONG, "THE FEELS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Gus Contreras
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Tinbete Ermyas
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
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