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Start a New Thanksgiving Tradition – Adopt A Turkey

Start a New Thanksgiving Tradition – Adopt A Turkey


If you are looking for an alternative way to celebrate Thanksgiving that doesn’t include plating a turkey on your table, you might be interested in the Adopt-a-Turkey Project.


Carol M. never dreamed she would be the guardian for a rescued turkey, but now she can’t picture life without her three girls – Misha, Jenny and Sammy.  Three and a half years ago she rescued a pet turkey from her neighbor and fell in love with the bird’s “sweet nature.”  When she wanted to find a companion for her pet, she traveled to the Adopt-a-Turkey Project at Farm Sanctuary where she adopted two more rescued birds. 


Farm Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that works to stop the cruelty of commercially-raised farm animals and promotes a vegan lifestyle.  Their two sanctuaries in New York and California are home to: pigs, sheep, cows, rabbits, geese, chickens and turkeys that have been victims of cruelty. 


They began the Adopt-a-Turkey Project in 1986 as a way of offering a “compassionate alternative for Thanksgiving.”


Since then, Farm Sanctuary has rescued more than 1,000 turkeys from “a thankless fate at the dinner table and given thousands of people an opportunity to adopt a turkey for the holidays.”


The project started early this year when 11 baby turkeys were secretly dropped off at the sanctuary in Orland, CA.  The staff will never know who brought the tiny birds to their doorstep, but they were grateful because the babies had already been abused by having the tips of their beaks and toes amputated.


Turkey producers on factory farms routinely perform this procedure to keep the birds from fighting with each other. They’re kept in crowded conditions with inadequate space. This environment causes the turkeys to become frustrated and violently peck at each other.


The tiny birds dropped off at Farm Sanctuary showed signs of respiratory and stomach infections.  Some of them also had an unidentifiable illness that made it hard for them to walk or stand.  They were quickly taken to the University of California, Davis Veterinary Hospital for treatment.  The sickest bird that the staff called Kasey died as a result of his infection.


The other 10 turkeys were returned to the sanctuary and are getting stronger everyday. They are learning their way around the farm and at night in their barn they fall asleep on top of each other.


The Adopt-a-Turkey Project has two ways for people to help.  First they can sponsor a rescued turkey for a donation of $25.00.  Sponsored birds will spend their lives at one of the Farm Sanctuary locations.  Their benefactors receive a certificate of their sponsorship along with a picture and the name of their bird.


The healthy and strongest turkeys are adopted to live with a human family – like Carol M.  The adopted guardian promises to provide a “safe, permanent and loving home for two or more turkeys.”  The guardian must also be a vegetarian that is committed to providing a lifetime of care for their feathered friends.


Individuals that are approved to adopt a turkey receive their companions from specially trained Farm Sanctuary staff that bring the birds directly to their new homes. 


People compare the personalities of the turkeys to those of pet cats and dogs.  They say the birds are “friendly, social and sensitive.”


Jane C. wrote on the Farm Sanctuary website, “Turkeys have a constant desire to keep you company.  They watch all you do and are always ready to join in.”


 “Once we took a walk on the paths that cross the meadows and forests that cover this wild ridge.  There were four humans, five dogs, two goats, and four turkeys all hiking together.”


Now that’s how a turkey should live.  Happy Thanksgiving.



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12:37AM PDT on Nov 3, 2011

A turkey needs a lot of space to roam around.

11:25AM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

LOL~ =) I don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but still.

11:21AM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

I don't suppose you know of any similar schemes in the UK, the animal/s would have to live indoors, we've no garden, and have to put up with 2 cats can be trouble but then they settle down once they realise we have new live-in resident/s.

3:24AM PST on Jan 9, 2010


3:24AM PST on Jan 9, 2010

Great article!

12:21PM PST on Dec 13, 2009

I would, but sadly I don't think I can't.
I once saw a turkey at my aunts and I wanted to adopt it, but it was my aunts and at the end it was nearly impossible, my parents didn't let me. Same with chickens, every time I see one I want to take it home and make it my pet instead of their dinner.

8:20AM PST on Dec 12, 2009

This is a great program and help out farm sanctuaries enormously

3:54PM PST on Dec 5, 2009

What a great article, program and organization, thank you for all the wonderful work you do for animals!

12:58PM PST on Dec 3, 2009

it's not stupid, Rachel, they are more than just turkeys just as you are more than just a female. women were viewed as property in this country for so long, even when a woman wanted to divorce an abusive husband, he could legally take the children, no questions asked.
many types of prejudice and bigotry and many types of 'isms. species-ism is so rampant and accepted. you are so right, there is such a lack of humanity in this world. be proud not to be a part of that, it's never stupid to have compassion.

5:45AM PST on Dec 2, 2009

How wonderful! It's great to see people caring.

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