Food by VICE

It's Disturbingly Common for Seagulls to Get Into Our Food Supply

A photo of a curry-covered seagull just went viral, but it isn't the first bird to end up in a vat of food at a factory.

by Bettina Makalintal
Jul 8 2019, 5:58pm

Photos by jodie777 & klenova via iStock/Getty Images Plus; Composite by MUNCHIES Staff

As anyone who's ever attempted to eat by the seaside surely knows, if there is food, the seagulls will find it—and that explains the internet's latest weird animal phenomenon. Last week, the UK's Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital shared the story of a bird dubbed "Vinny” (short for “vindaloo”), who was brought to the clinic completely covered in curry. Locals had found and rescued a flightless orange bird and brought it to the clinic, where workers soon realized that it was just a seagull in desperate need of a bath. "He had somehow gotten himself covered in curry or turmeric!" Tiggywinkles wrote on Facebook. "We have no idea how he got into this predicament but thankfully, apart from the vibrant colour and pungent smell, he was healthy."

While this may sound too bizarre not to be a one-off, Vinny actually wasn't the first bird with this problem. There's a recent history of gulls who, just like Vinny, have gotten into trouble after seemingly having fallen into vats of turmeric-laced stews. In June 2016, a seagull cleverly nicknamed "Gullfrazie" was found after having plunged into a chicken tikka masala at a food factory. ("They managed to return him back to his original white colour but have not been able to wash away the smell," the BBC reported.) Just two months later, another Welsh gull fell into a vat of tandoori sauce.

We have so many questions, but mainly, how exactly are all these birds ending up in huge vats of food? Are we to believe that factories are really just swarmed with seagulls ready to dive into open containers of simmering stew? And while everyone else is freaking out about pre-licked ice cream and food tampering, is the real reason for concern that our takeout might have once served as a diving pond for birds?

In any case, attempts to block the birds haven't been entirely successful, either. In March 2016, a tofu factory in Canada found 70 seagulls in a vat of tofu byproduct. As a spokesperson for Superior Tofu told CBC at the time, the gulls, who enjoy eating the leftover tofu pulp, were so common a problem that the factory had installed guard rails to keep the birds out. That design, however, let the birds in, but not out—which is why so many of them ended up in need of rescuing. As of the CBC's report, the company was working to find a better long-term solution to the bird situation, but they'd put down tarps in the meantime.

The why, of course, is obvious: Tikka masala is tasty, regardless of one's species.