On 17th March 2023, former “Baywatch” star Alexandra Paul and co-defendant Alicia Santurio were found not guilty of theft after rescuing two chickens from a truck in California. In September 2021, Paul and Santurio, as part of the animal rights organisation Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), performed an open rescue of chickens from a Foster Farms’ truck outside a Livingston slaughterhouse in California, a facility that had been investigated by the group. Open rescue is when activists record themselves rescuing animals and publicise the event without hiding their identities despite potential legal consequences. 

A video recorded by this group appeared to show Paul and Santurio taking two chickens from a truck transporting many other chickens to a Foster Farms slaughterhouse. Paul said the action was an open rescue of the chickens from alleged mistreatment at the plant. The activists named the chickens Ethan and Jax. Ethan, taken because appeared to be sick, died a few days after he was pulled from the truck despite receiving veterinary care. Jax is still alive and recovering well at an animal sanctuary.

Paul said to the Los Angeles Times before the trial, “we published this video within an hour with both my name and Alicia Santurio’s name attached to it because we believe what we’re doing is legal and morally right… We’re rescuing sick chickens from a factory farm that has a history of abusing them.”

Paul and Santurio were charged with misdemeanour theft, and after a trial in Merced that lasted nine days, the jury found them not guilty. Alexandra Paul was represented by attorney Wayne Hsiung, who is a co-founder of DxE, and stood trial himself in 2022 after rescuing two pigs from a Smithfield-owned Utah factory. He was also acquitted with co-defendant Paul Darwin Picklesimer on 8th October 2022 by the 5th District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox. Two consecutive open rescue cases where the defendants were acquitted could be a significant shift in the fight to legalise open rescue.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.