News & Politics

The Inside Story of Pentagon Chicken’s Capture

Photo courtesy of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

The call came in just before 7 AM on Monday: An intruder had tried to enter a secure area on the Pentagon reservation, and the security staff there needed some assistance because the interloper was hiding under a truck. Sergeant Cliff Ballena had just arrived at the office, so he immediately headed out. “They gave me an escort to where the chicken was,” the Animal Welfare League of Arlington animal-control officer says. 

Photo courtesy of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Catching this bad motherclucker took a bit of teamwork. “We were able to corner it with another police officer who is part of the security point,” Ballena says. Before catching it in a net, it “actually, like, flew into the officer’s hands.”

The Pentagon is “definitely the oddest place” he’d ever apprehended a suspect, Ballena says. “You don’t expect having a chicken in federal property.”

The Welfare League asked for name suggestions in social media posts about its capture Monday. “Hentagon,” “Chick Cheney,” “Colonel Sanderson,” “Major Clucks,” and  “Ken” (aka Chick Ken), were some of the contenders. They finally settled on “Henny Penny.”

The incident has gained national attention. Jimmy Fallon even sang a song about the stealthy bird on Tuesday night’s show.

At the moment, Henny Penny is being held at the organization in the event that her owner comes forward. If she doesn’t get claimed within the next few days, the organization has arranged to send her either to Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland, or home with a staff member who has their own small farm. As long as her new home is nowhere near a secure federal facility, authorities should expect no more fowl play.


Tori Bergel
Editorial Fellow