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Many Baby Chicks At Popular Museum Of Science And Industry Exhibit End Up As Dinner At Lincoln Park Zoo

(CBS) -- It's one of the most popular exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry: the cute, fuzzy baby chicks. But many of those little chicks end up as dinner for animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports at the MSI, they've been coming out of their shell since the 1950s.

"Families come here consistently and in great numbers to see our chicks," said Dr. Patricia Ward, director of science and technology at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Cute fuzzy yellow chicks, roughly 20 a day, upwards of 140 a week and as many as 8,000 a year

"We hatch a lot of chicks," Ward said.

But this is the Museum of Science and Industry's Genetics Hall, not a barn, and the chicks have to go somewhere.

A lion's roar echoes through the Lincoln Park Zoo, where most of those chicks have been destined as dinner for decades and not just for the pride, crocodiles eat them too.

"Generally they will eat it and swallow it immediately," said zoo curator Dave Bernier.

Snakes enjoy them, as well as vultures, owls, and tigers.

If it sounds hard for a youngster to comprehend, remember the circle of life is the main theme of Disney's family blockbuster, The Lion King. Only in this circle the chicks are eventually frozen and fed whole at a later date.

"Animals eat other animals," Bernier said. "When you come to a zoo we don't hide that anymore. We did 30 years ago."

Information from two major cultural institutions who give a peep about educating the public.

Fear not, because not all the chicks end up as dinner. About one thousand are of the rare Java species, and they live out their days on a farm in LaFox Illinois, dedicated to protecting the rare heritage breed.

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