LOS ANGELES — Former “Baywatch” star Alexandra Paul and another woman went on trial this week in Merced County after taking two chickens from a Foster Farms truck outside a California plant.
The incident, which occurred in September, was captured on video by animal activist organization Direct Action Everywhere.
Footage shows Paul and Alicia Santurio running up to an idling semi that is carrying a trailer full of chickens outside Foster Farms’ Livingston plant. They open a chicken cage and grab two chickens.
The pair run back to a waiting car as the chickens squawk in their arms and ruffle their feathers.
Paul and Santurio were charged with misdemeanor theft. Jury selection in their trial began Tuesday.
Paul said the action was an “open rescue” of the chickens from alleged mistreatment at the plant.
“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,” Paul said in an interview with The Times.
“We’re rescuing sick chickens from a factory farm that has a history of abusing them,” she said.
Paul and Direct Action Everywhere said that the chickens that were taken were sick and that one died shortly after it was pulled from the truck despite receiving veterinary care.
Foster Farms did not respond to a request for comment.
The company, however, spoke to the New York Times in February about footage of the plant taken by Direct Action Everywhere activists and said the allegations of animal mistreatment were “without merit.”
The Livingston plant was also the site of a COVID-19 outbreak among workers in 2020 that killed eight people.
Paul and Santurio’s trial comes a few months after two Direct Action activists were acquitted in Utah after taking piglets from a farm owned by pork giant Smithfield Foods.
A video of that incident was also posted to YouTube by Direct Action.
“The prosecution has offered us five deals, and we have said no,” Paul said. “When I think about the consequences for me, they are minimal compared to what the animals are going through.”