Celebrity rooster Mr. Clucky faces eviction from his Miami Beach home
Miami Beach's South Beach is certainly no stranger to eccentric characters (indeed, the Miami Herald notes that "the cross-dressing former cabbie who jives to '60s hits for change; the woman who walks her iguanas in a pram built for two; and the middle-aged man who makes custom paintings with his toes" get along just fine there). But apparently Miami Beach's own celebrity rooster, Mr. Clucky, is taking eccentricity a step too far -- or so the city implied by sending a code enforcement officer to serve owner Mark Buckley with a ticket and an order to get rid of the bird.
Mr. Clucky's offense? Contrary to some reports, it's not his penchant for early-morning crowing (although that's presumably the reason a neighbor filed a complaint about him, leading city officials to investigate) -- it's simply geography. Mr. Clucky lives within city limits, and despite Buckley's assertion that he's a friend, he's technically considered a farm animal -- a violation of city code.
Mr. Clucky's life story reads like a children's book -- only it's real. Buckley found the 6 1/2-pound rooster exhausted, bleeding and hungry in a bush about two years ago. "Obviously he had escaped from some Santeria ceremony or something," he told the Miami New Times of the pair's introduction.
Once Buckley had nursed Mr. Clucky back to health, the bird rose to local fame with his penchant for bicycle-riding. (He digs his claws into the handlebars to hang on while Buckley pedals. And he seems to actually enjoy it. "He knows the sound of the key in the door," Buckley told New Times, "and he gets really upset if I leave him alone.") But Mr. Clucky wasn't content to simply revel in his celebrity status -- he became an advocate for farm animal welfare, even being named Best Activist by Metromix South Florida.
The move to oust the rooster, who's a favorite of locals and tourists alike, has outraged his many fans. "Mr. Clucky really is a symbol of peace. ... The city needs to be more involved in crime then [sic] a harmless bird," Lauren Wise of St. John's County, Fla., writes on his website. (Supporters from Canada to Germany to Australia have left messages there.)
"I really hate mean people who have nothing better to do than complain about something so stupid and trivial," adds Eileen McKenzie of Sacramento. "At least Mr. Clucky's owner is responsible enough to keep him in a quiet box at night. That's more than I can say for some people who own dogs."
Chantelle North of Melbourne, Australia, fumes, "[Mr. Clucky] has made great contributions to his community and puts smiles on peoples faces. ... I don't think there should be an issue!"
City officials are mindful of the bird's popularity, but insist that rules are rules. "I don't know if we've ever gotten a complaint about Mr. Clucky riding around [on the bicycle]," Miami Beach Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez acknowledged in an interview with the Miami Herald, "but it's not about what he does outside his home. It's about living with the rooster in the home."
For his part, Buckley calls the city's action "nuts" and has requested an appeal to the citation. Should he refuse to pay the fine and part with Mr. Clucky, Fernandez admitted that the city didn't have much recourse beyond escalating fines; arresting Buckley is unlikely. It's possible, however, that South Beach's own celebrooster could be forcibly removed from Buckley's home. Should it come to that, at least one Florida resident has offered to take him in -- Glenn Terry of nearby Coconut Grove, who founded the King Mango Strut, an annual parade of oddities for which Mr. Clucky once served as Grand Marshal.
Photo: Mark Buckley and Mr. Clucky. Credit: J. Pat Carter / Associated Press