Animal rights group backs down over bid to change name of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans - Credit: Archant

A campaign to persuade the country’s oldest pub to change its name to avoid upsetting chickens has been quietly dropped by an animal rights group.

A bid by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to rename Ye Olde Fighting Cocks to Ye Olde Clever Cocks made the national news last week.

The organisation’s special projects manager Dawn Carr wanted the pub to end its association with the sport of cockfighting - banned more than 150 years ago - and instead celebrate “intelligent, sensitive chickens”.

But the charity faced a social media backlash for focusing on political correctness instead of real-life animal abuse.

The Herts Advertiser also revealed nobody from PETA had actually visited the pub before launching the campaign, and Ms Carr admitted she hadn’t even been to St Albans for years.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks landlord Christo Tofalli politely turned down the request, saying he had a responsibility for preserving the history and heritage of the oldest pub in the country, including the darker aspects of its past like cockfighting.

This week Ms Carr confirmed that PETA would not be pursuing the campaign any further.

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She told the Herts Advertiser: “While we would have loved to see the pub change its name, it was great to have a discussion about chickens. Some people enjoyed our request, some did not.

“Most of the negative comments seemed to come from a false assumption that we suggested the pub is supporting or promoting cockfighting with its name – as you know, we did not.

“Our letter was a light-hearted way to draw attention to a serious issue and afforded us the opportunity to reach thousands of people with the message that chickens deserve kindness and that the best way to help animals is by not eating them.

“While they have declined our request, the pub’s landlord was very gracious in the media and thanked PETA for the work we do to help animals and for bringing a lot of attention to their charming pub.”

Landlord Christo welcomed the news: “I applaud PETA’s efforts to get their message out to the general public that chickens deserve kindness and compassion, which at the same time has helped to get some fantastic publicity for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

“However, while I am taking care of Britain’s oldest pub, it will not be changing its name. The pub, its customers and its heritage are important to us and it’s essential that we preserve Ye Olde Fighting Cocks as it is in order to celebrate the heritage of St Albans and the great English pub.

“The support from the city of St Albans has been outstanding, the residents’ sense of humour has been priceless. We have also received many emails of support from all over the world, particularly the US.

“The plan is to save this pub and wrap it in cotton wool, so I am grateful for all the publicity and support we have had over the last 10 days.”