Feathers, Fur and Fins: Facing Quarantine with Newfound Friends


Courtesy of Kyle Traska and Safah Faraz

On the left, instrumental music director Kyle Traska holds his pet chicken, Elsa, for whom he assembled a coop out of a neighbor’s old kitchen cabinet. On the right, junior Safah Faraz spends time with her four-month-old calico, Pepper, who is a clumsy yet lovable fool.

Kayla Moshayedi, Lauren Hsu, and Zara Shirwany

For many students and staff, adopting a pet this past summer provided not only some much-needed entertainment to curb quarantine boredom, but also a lifelong companion. 

For junior Shreya Shah, making the decision to get a betta fish was a straightforward one. Shah and her family had kept several fish in the past, but this time around, she was able to get one of her own. Elijah the fish, who also goes by Bubba, is named after Shah’s favorite character on the CW show “The Originals.”

“He’s just added to all our lives, and it’s something special because he’s just mine,” Shah said. “It’s nice to have to take care of something, and then you have something to watch while you’re doing your Zoom calls. You just glance over and he’s right there.” 

It’s nice to have to take care of something, and then you have something to watch while you’re doing your Zoom calls. You just glance over and he’s right there.”

— Shreya Shah

While some may have had an easier time convincing their relatives to adopt a new addition to the family, it was not as simple for junior Safah Faraz. Though she had always wanted a cat, Faraz was finally able to persuade her mom after she had a “momentary lapse in judgement,”  and welcomed home four-month-old calico cat Pepper at the start of summer break.

“I already made up my mind 10 years ago that I was going to get a cat; the hard part was convincing my mom,” Faraz said. “Everyone has that one thing or person that distracts them from the chaos of life. For me, that’s Pepper.”  

Meanwhile, tired of making constant trips to Costco to buy cartons of eggs, instrumental music director Kyle Traska decided to adopt two pet chickens to help lighten the load. However, he had to return one of them, since it ended up being a rooster, which is illegal to own in certain parts of California. 

Traska was able to assemble a coop and pen out of scrap material and has since enjoyed chasing Elsa the chicken around his yard and cleaning up lots of chicken poop.

“It’s been a fun experience seeing them grow from chicks into more adult chickens, to take care of them, to clean up their cage,” Traska said. “We still haven’t had any eggs, but obviously, it’s going to take time. That was kind of the roundabout way of doing that.”