Cape Town -
Making someone act like a chicken is the oldest trick in the book for hypnotists. But what happens when a rooster is under the enchanter’s spell?
After minutes of chasing around a clucking hen inside the small coop at Somerstrand College, public relations manager and self-titled capon (castrated roosters) whisperer Lynn Giles was ready to answer this age-old question.
“(Once it’s hypnotised), you can touch its feet, stroke its stomach or even paint the talons and it won’t move,” said the 43-year-old, the entranced chicken lying in front of her.
Giles is definitely more than she appears to be. During the day she may be promoting her college, but in her spare time she’s in the coop, mesmerising the roost.
On Wednesday, outside the enclosure on the college grounds in Gordon’s Bay, Giles demonstrated her technique.
Her nine-year-old daughter, Lizzy, playing the magician’s assistant, cradled the chicken – it wasn’t clear whether it had volunteered – before laying it down on the grass.
“First you bend down and carefully place the chicken between your thighs,” said Giles. “Make sure when you place it down its beak is closely touching the ground.
“Then you take a small stick and start drawing circles on the ground in front of its beak. You draw the circles about 10 times.”
She let go, revealing the chicken to be in a deep trance. For 30 seconds, it didn’t move.
While the watching pupils were in awe, Lizzy whispered to her mom to show another trick.
Pulling out chicken number two, Giles said excitedly: “You can also lay it on its back.”
She cradled the chicken and rocked it from side to side, singing a lullaby, and just as quickly as the first, the chicken fell into a trance.
“To get them out, you just have to shake them or clap your hands.”
But the hypnosis is no magic trick. It boils down to something called tonic immobility, where gentle movement is used to confuse the animal’s small brain, causing it to be paralysed with indecision.
It is a skill Giles has passed on to her chicken-obsessed daughter.