Sophie’s Turkey Hug (Video)


When the investigative team from Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals went to a turkey farm to document the treatment of the animals, they never dreamed it would lead to the rescue of two baby turkeys. The following story and video are about Katie and Sophie, two domestic turkeys that represent the plight of every animal born on a commercial farm. The story is told by Twyla Francois, Head of Investigation for CETFA.

“Just after co-investigator Olivier Berreville and I returned from a Granny’s Poultry turkey barn, where, contrary to company management assurances, we documented the same cruel and abusive loading of baby turkeys that we had two years prior (turkeys reach slaughter-weight at just a few months of age – they’re still blue-eyed and peeping). We trailed the terrified turkeys to Granny’s slaughterhouse in Blumenort, Manitoba feeling absolutely helpless to stop their killing.

The next day, we received a call from a supporter in the area telling us they’d found two shivering, ragged turkeys in the ditch. The birds must have escaped their captors during the catching. We ran out, picked up the bedraggled bundles of bones and feathers and brought them home.

The video below shows their rescue. Breaking through the darkness of their experience we see Sophie on Olivier’s lap in the car. Just 2 hours later, and now home, we see Katie, exhausted, sleeping on my lap, while wee Sophie peeps for her mother, then breaking through her fear, slowly approaches me to finally stretch her head back and lay it against my shoulder in what can only be described as a turkey hug.

For months, Katie and Sophie feared our hands but would stare into our faces, searching our eyes to see if it was cruelty or kindness behind them. Eventually, their fear of hands subsided and they sought even these out for comforting pets.

Our time with Katie and Sophie was bitter sweet and short-lived. Katie died of congestive heart failure at just 7 months of age. Sophie, the runt, was allowed 2 additional months because of her smaller size reducing the stress on her heart. At 9 months of age though, Sophie left us too.

Today’s turkeys have been so genetically selected for large breasts to supply society’s demand for white meat that the birds themselves are kept in a physiological state my colleague Dana Medoro refers to as “not dying.” They struggle with every breath from the strain their enormous bodies put on their hearts and very quickly, they simply give out.

After seeing the depth of forgiveness of these incredible animals, I hope you too will reconsider your relationship with them. As a consumer, you have the power to change the future for birds like Sophie and Katie. Please, stop providing a reason for companies like Granny’s to continue killing them.”

-Twyla Francois

You can read more about Katie and Sophie by clicking on Katie’s Story. The video below has some graphic material, but the heartwarming hug from Sophie to her rescuers at the end, makes it so worthwhile. It is set to haunting music composed by Canadian musician Jesse Thom, called Waiting for the Birds to Strike.

An injured pig and cow are also shown in the video to remind viewers about all farm animals. Both are animals that were part of CETFA investigations. Thanks to CETFA and Free From Harm for sharing this story.


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Photo Credit: TwylaFrancois


Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Terri S.
Terri Sackett4 years ago

This sickens me to no end at how these animals are inhumanely treated......i'm glad i watched the gave me a better prospective on the different levels of farming...And that There is still a LARGE amount of animal abuse! The visions of that pig, the cow, and the turkey with his head wound will be with me.... Proof as to Why we need NOT to have the Ag Gag!!!!

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright4 years ago

I couldn't watch this video either.......

It's shameful how we treat the most vulnerable and voiceless victims of society. I'm trying to avoid eating as much meat as possible. Animals shouldn't have to die so I can stuff my face. There are other foods I can eat without killing an animal.

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S.4 years ago

I have great difficulty watching this. I cannot believe the insensible things factory farmers do to their animals. What could possibly be the reason for not milking a cow and causing her to undergo so much pain from a overly full milk sac until she can't even walk properly? What besides just being a nasty, inhuman ass?!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle4 years ago

I started watching the video, but saw a sweet pig being dumped and a cow in such pain, I had to turn it off -- wanted to see the turkey laying his head on the human shoulder.

I can't abide such cruelty. Please. It must stop. Go vegan or vegetarian, please. It's not hard, and you'll feel so good, morally. The physical benefits are an extra.

Twyla F.
Twyla F.4 years ago

It's been so heartening to read everyone's comments and see how Sophie and Katie have touched more hearts than just our own.

Going veg may seem like a big step but we all start the same way: reducing our consumption of meat by even 1 meal a week (google Meatless Monday - it's a great way to start off with some fabulous recipes). You soon realize that you start looking forward to Monday and the new foods that come with it.

Replacing meat with the soy alternatives is another great way to sneak it onto the plates of hesitant partners or kids. Try Yves ground round to replace hamburger and Gardein and Tofurky to replace chicken and turkey. No one will know the difference, you'll be eating cholesterol free and no one will have had to die for your dinner.

Andrea A.
Andrea Anderson4 years ago

It's been 2 hours since I watched this video and my stomache is still turning. I closed my eyes through most of this video because I wanted to see the turkey hug. This may be the kicker where I become a vegetarian. I will certainly start eating meat-free once a week like Nancy B. suggest. It's truly sad that animals suffer like this.

Andrea Hoyt
Andrea Hoyt4 years ago

I couldn't watch. I just got through watching the dancing cow video and was practically brought to tears of joy. I don't understand how people can get to this place in life where they can treat an animal as though it were not alive.

Karen C.
Karen C.4 years ago

Nancy B, if everyone could have your type of courage! I am surrounded by people who preofess to love and care for animals and who are fully aware of the plight of farmed animals; yet, they continue to consume the products of factory farming. They block the horrors from their consciousness; they want to believe they have no choice or nothing will change - the meat is there already, so why not eat it? They avoid the realities, can't face the truth...If that reality is unbearable to us, then imagine what it's like for the animals who live it?

I used to love meat too, to eat a lot of it and no veggies! I don't miss it anymore (it grosses me out now!) and certainly don't crave it or cheese either. Hope you'll eventually forget the taste of meat, so you don't miss it anymore. But it's great that you have the courage to put your moral convictions before your stomach :)

Julie D.
Julie D.4 years ago

I have watched the video and read Katie's story. Those poor abused domestic turkeys still have the intelligence and needs of their wild ancestors. Read the book "Ilumination in the Flatwoods" for the story of a naturalist living with a brood of wild turkey poults.

My rescued ex battery hens exhibit similar traumatised behaviours at first. the fear in their eyes, the shying away from human hands and alarm calls when one of their group is picked up and examined. All remind me of the faces and body language of concentration camp survivors. This is written not to demean the suffering of the peolpe, but to give back the lost dignity and grace of the suffering animals.

Some of the hens remain aloof throughout their lives with me but others are so touchingly forgiving and actively seek out our comapnionship after a while. All suffer from the results of selective breeding and as stated in the film, their lives are shortened because of our choice to keep them in intensive farming systems. Our rescued hens don't live much over 4 years, if they're lucky. Either peritonitis due to laying too many eggs or heart-failure takes them. One girl died last week from heart failure. She was fading for a few days and had spend a couple of cold nights in the house with us. Her last night it was milder and she spent with her flock but in the morning she was gasping for breath and we knew the time had come. My husband took her to he vet and she was euthanised by injection sitting on his lap. how