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Why are there several caged roosters by the gardeners’ supplies in the La Brea Tar Pits parking lot?

Those aren’t ordinary roosters; they’re sentinel chickens! Los Angeles County Vector Control keeps flocks housed in several strategic locations to test for mosquito-borne diseases. If one of these birds winds up with West Nile virus (they undergo regular blood tests), the public would be warned to take precautions before the disease spreads among humans. The chickens remain unaffected by the virus. That’s a better deal than being a canary in a coal mine. 
 
Illustration by Jason Schneider