As I mentioned a few years ago, the whole presidential turkey pardon is a frustratingly annoying event. It’s meant to be this cutesy gesture, all “Hey, look, it’s so cute and funny! We’re pardoning turkeys from their death sentence! Tee-hee!” (Interestingly, as a blogger somewhere pointed out, it’s a gesture that the death row inmates in Texas rarely got…)
This year, after pressure from PETA, the turkeys won’t be going to Frying Pan Park in Herndon, VA. Many pardoned turkeys in recent years have died within a year. Frying Pan Park denies any wrongdoing and points to the unnatural weight these turkeys have to hold. I can’t say for sure whether the turkeys were treated well or not, but I know that we’ve got a number of would-have-been-Thanksgiving turkeys at Poplar Spring and all of them have lived long lives well beyond a year. This year’s birds will be flown first class to Disneyland.
Of course, this pardon doesn’t do much to bring to light the life and ultimate fate of 45 million other turkeys each Thanksgiving (that’s 15% of all turkey consumed each year in the United States). In honor of the millions of birds that wind up on Amercia’s table on the fourth Thursday of each November, some facts about turkeys and the conditions they’re raised in:
- Farm Sanctuary’s Turkey Industry Information
- PETA’s Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Turkeys
- PETA’s information about turkeys (be sure to watch the videos, too)
- The Vegetarian Society’s Information Sheet on Turkeys
- National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wild Turkey facts – They’re a group that “preserves our hunting heritage,” but they’ve got some great information about types of wild turkeys
- Robyn’s Eastern Wild Turkey Page – “The only known web site on wild turkeys as pets.” Um, OK… still, lots of interesting info here.
- Wikipedia on turkeys
- Hybrid Turkeys – Another example of how the industry viewed farmed animals simply as units. Take this particularly cold text from the company’s “about” page: “Hybrid customers all over the world continue to profit from Hybrid’s ongoing research and development programs. Improvement in Hybrid’s well established, wide ranging gene pool ensures that various strains of turkeys are available to specifically address every market need.”