Thousands of baby chickens died Tuesday from excessive heat, found in a cargo warehouse by a Miami-Dade airport employee, according to state and local officials.
“The employee found the shipment of baby chickens in an Alliance (Ground International) Cargo warehouse that had arrived that day on a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul” during a routine patrol, said Greg Chin, spokesman for the Miami-Dade Department of Aviation.
The chicks were on a Delta flight, which landed at Miami International Airport at 1:16 p.m. ET on Tuesday, according to flight records. The birds were discovered four hours later, Chin said.
The chicks had been loaded onto metal luggage carts and sat in the South Florida sun for some time, according to CNN affiliate WPLG.
The temperature at the airport was 90 degrees at the time, which was also the highest for the day, with a temperature felt like 98 degrees, according to CNN meteorologists. Asphalt temperatures can be 40 to 60 degrees warmer than the air.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was notified Tuesday afternoon that “the birds had died from excessive heat while awaiting transport to the Bahamas,” spokeswoman Erin said. Moffet. “The remaining live chicks have arrived at their final destination,” Moffet said.
Representatives from farms in the Bahamas told WPLG of the 5,200 chicks initially in the shipment, only about 1,300 made them alive. Staff at Abaco Big Bird Family Farm said they were horrified by what happened and had never seen anything like it in 27 years of business.
Employees of Eulen America, an airport ancillary services company, are “responsible for loading and unloading cargo onto the aircraft,” but transportation and delivery “is done by another company,” said spokeswoman Marla Gomez told CNN in a statement.
“We can understand and sympathize with the concern over the situation,” Gomez said. The company did not comment further, citing an investigation.
The Florida Department of Agriculture said “any investigation into the incident would be conducted by law enforcement officials.”
CNN has repeatedly reached out to Delta, Alliance Ground and the Abaco Big Bird family farm for comment, but has received no response.