One of the most popular questions tourists ask is “Why are there so many chickens on the streets of Key West?".
Well, historically, there were always chickens on the island. Back in the day, locals kept them in backyards with a purpose to produce eggs and become a dinner one day. Luckily, over the years some of the birds managed to escape and become official Key West Gypsy chickens. Later on, they were joined by roosters which were released when cockfights became illegal in the late 1980s.
Yes, you read it right. Cockfighting was legal, and it was a favorite gambling activity of many southern men. Time to time you still can find a newspaper article talking about busting illegal cockfighting rings in Florida.
In 2004, to control the population of chickens, the City of Key West had to hire a professional bird catcher. Captured birds were then transferred to organic farms in Florida where they continue to enjoy their lives and become a natural pest control remedy. However, many local residents were not happy with such doings, so the city had to get rid of the bird catcher.
Since then, all the gypsy chicken population lives in peace and enjoys island life to its fullest. Sometimes, roosters remember their old habits and get into the fights to show off in front of chicks and entertain tourists.