The city of Madison is eying a zoning change to let schools and museums in the downtown area keep up to six chickens.
People can currently keep four chickens in the city's residential zones, but that does not include downtown. The zoning change would allow the Madison Children's Museum -- or any other downtown school or museum -- to keep six birds.
Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer supports the change: "It seems to me when the chicken ordinance was adopted years ago, no one ever thought there would be an opportunity for chickens to peacefully coexist downtown. But the creative folks at the Children's Museum changed all that, so we want to make the chickens legal."
The museum currently has four birds, used to teach about food production and humanely raising animals. "We allow our chickens to be handled by the kids," says Ruth Shelly, the museum's executive director. "With six chickens, we're able to rotate the love between the chickens."
The chickens did cause some alarm last month by burrowing out of their enclosure on the museum's rooftop. "We were able to coax all but one back in," Shelly says. "Chickens can fly. One of them flew down to Hamilton Street, but was rescued."
The enclosure has since been reinforced.