Surprise most fowl eases spring fever for cooped-up students
April 25, 2011 at 6 p.m.
Updated April 24, 2011 at 11:25 p.m.
It didn't take long for the newbie at the University of Houston-Victoria to become the most popular chick on campus.
The fowl with dark, shiny locks has scratched out a new home in the bushes between University West and the Victoria College Student Center. Many have nicknamed the frosh simply, "The Chicken."
"That chicken is pretty much the most photographed chicken in Texas," said John Davis, an accountant at UHV. "From what I've seen, people have enjoyed having it here."
Davis, who is in UHV's financial aid department, said his department is convinced the bird is a female. And they have bestowed the name of "Lucy" to the higher-ed fowl.
Ask regular passersby on Pyramid Row, and they'll tell you the chicken just appeared one day, sometime near the beginning of April.
Since then, its friendly presence seems to have added some end-of-the-school-year amusement to the place.
"I think it's great. I think it's something to make things a little light-hearted," said Randy Fingers, who's on the university's maintenance staff. "I work grounds, so if anybody was going to complain, it should be me. So I say, 'right on' to the chicken."
Nobody quite knows why the chicken crossed the campus, but all have their theories.
"I think VC has underground chicken fights, and one got loose," joked Jacob Arambula, a 22-year-old student at the college.
Others offered more plausible explanations, assuming the chicken was planted as an April Fool's prank or that it escaped from a home near the construction zone on Red River Street.
But most of Lucy's fans are more concerned with keeping it on campus than they are with how it got there.
"I've got a screen saver that says, 'Save the Chicken,'" laughed Cheryl Robbins, who is a senior secretary for UHV.
As quickly as word spread about the new UHV tenant, plans hatched to capture it, Lucy's backers feared. Employees said they'd heard rumblings of co-workers trying to cage Lucy to take back to their farms.
Arambula said he and his friend, Nick Ruiz, tried to catch it one day.
"He's a fast little chicken," Ruiz, 22, said. "I think he wants to stay here."
Lucy seems to have pecked out a comfortable life for herself at UHV.
At the familiar sound of feed mix rattling in a Folger's coffee can, Lucy tottered her way out of the shady shrubbery for an afternoon snack.
Robbins scattered the feed on the ground and said she and other co-workers take turns feeding the chicken each day.
"He's got personality. He's warmed up to us," she said.
Students do their part, too, leaving cereal snacks and sharing the chicken's company while doing homework or relaxing.
Jeffrey Kutach, a 21-year-old student at Victoria College, said he makes it a point to come to the edge of the UHV campus a little more often lately.
"It seems to be our own mascot now," Kutach said.
Fingers said the UHV maintenance staff has joined in on the dual campuswide camaraderie, hanging up the same "Save the Chicken" signs around the department.
And Fingers has another battle cry in support of the UHV chicken.
"Eat more beef," he said.