Daily Mail: Activists have called on an eighth century pub to change its name from ‘Ye Olde Fighting Cocks’ to ‘Ye Olde Clever Cocks’ to reflect today’s compassion for animals. Animal rights group Peta wants the St Albans pub to adopt a new name to ‘celebrate chickens as the intelligent, sensitive animals they are’.
The pub, which is in the Guinness Book of Records as the UK’s oldest, has had its current name since 1872 due to its history of cock fighting, a sport which was banned outright in England and Wales in 1835.
In an open letter penned to chief executive of Mitchells and Butlers, and pub landlord Christo Tofalli, special projects manager of Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Dawn Carr urges the pub to end their association with the banned sport.
She said: ‘The name Ye Olde Fighting Cocks calls to mind the violence and gore of cockfighting, a hideous blood sport so cruel that it has been outlawed in the UK. A change of name to Ye Olde Clever Cocks would help highlight the fact that chickens are intelligent, sensitive and super-social animals. (It) would encourage people to rethink the way that we treat chickens and grant these birds the respect and kindness that they deserve.’
She added: ‘We understand that the pub has long been called Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and that there may be some resistance to making a name change, but just as many pubs with names tied to slavery changed their names to match modern sensibilities, so it’s high time for The Cocks to change.’
Indeed, when cock fighting was banned as a sport, the pub changed its name to the ‘Fisherman’ in 1848. However it resorted to its original name and has been officially known as ‘Ye Olde Fighting Cocks’ since 1872.
Landlord Mr. Tofalli, who has been at the pub for more than three years, said he had a responsibility for preserving the history and the heritage of the ‘oldest pub in the country’ where Oliver Cromwell reputedly spent a night during the English Civil War.
Speaking to MailOnline, he said: ‘While Britain’s oldest pub is on my watch it’ll be my job to protect the history of the place. We’re going to keep it as a pub, not turn it into a bistro or curry house or anything like that, and make it the best we can. Our plan is to basically do what’s good for us and our customers. Anything outside that remit, essentially, they’re not in our agenda and never will be. We celebrate the fact that chicken fighting is over. We have to remind PETA that none of that goes on – we are an animal friendly pub, we’re on a park and dogs are sometimes more welcome than humans. We’re not changing it for PETA or for anyone else.’
Elsewhere, local punters took to social media to express their outrage at the suggestion. Regular pub-goer Robert Oakhill, 71, said: ‘The thing that appalls me is the total lack of appreciation of history. The current name informs us about the past. It enables us to contemplate the great advances that have been made. The new name is, to use the most appropriate critical term, “bonkers.'”
Alasdair Melville, 31, used to work at the pub having attended St Albans Boys School. He added: ‘Rather than worrying about the name of a pub, I think PETA should worry about looking after chickens at chicken farms for example. There is a better way to make a point.’
Maybe PETA should worry about their own compassion for animals instead of a pub’s name. From Huffington Post (4/4/15):
“PETA’s kill statistics for 2014 are now available. They’re even uglier than last year’s. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is once again poisoning over 88% of the dogs and cats entrusted to their care. Perhaps as high as 98%, if you factor in the dishonesty of their reporting, as pointed out by Nathan Winograd of the No Kill Advocacy Center.“