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As November slowly creeps by, we get closer and closer to “Turkey Day.” While many people take this day to mean the day we celebrate by eating turkey … we have a bit of a different idea about what this day means. Being Green Monsters, we know that every animal has an inherent value that exists completely separate from the one humans assign to them. For this reason, we do not see turkeys as the hallowed centerpiece of a traditional meal – we see them as the incredible creatures that they are, all in their own right.

Turkeys are sensitive, highly intelligent, and social creatures. They have personalities as distinct and varied as cat or dogs; however, like other animals raised in factory farms, turkeys are subjected to horrible, cramped, unsanitary conditions. Around 99 percent of turkeys raised in the U.S. come from factory farms. What’s even worse is that turkeys at so called “free range” or “organic” farms generally aren’t treated any better. In accordance with industry standards, these turkeys also have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade and have to live in extremely crowded, filthy sheds.

So, in an effort to reimagine this “age-old” tradition, let’s get to know some of the amazing turkeys who have been rescued by farm sanctuaries across the U.S. We hope you will come to see them for their intrinsic value, as we do, and reconsider the centerpiece that will grace your table this year.

1. Kona

There is no question that Kona is the most fabulous turkey you will ever meet. This trendy Tom was rescued from becoming a Thanksgiving dinner in 2009 by Harvest Home Sanctuary. Rescued when he was just a wee poult, Kona is now five years old and has taken the sanctuary by storm. At Harvest Home, Kona is known for being quite the ladies’ man. He is not afraid to flirt with any girl – turkey or human and exudes an incredible amount of confidence, it is no wonder he was given his very own Facebook page to capture all the sass. He even has his own series of “Hey Girl” photos that you definitely do NOT want to miss.

To capture all the wonderful that is this special turkey, Kona was recently given his very own photo shoot by Nuena Photography. Harvest Home’s Christine Morrissey tells One Green Planet, “Quite honestly, I’ve never seen a turkey express his individuality as I saw Kona do so in studio yesterday.”

2. 24 Poults Saved by Farm Sanctuary


Source: farmsanctuary/Youtube

When the volunteers at the Watkins Glen branch of Farm Sanctuary found a box filled with 24 baby turkeys on their doorstep, it was clear that these small birds were in desperate need of help. The turkeys had been rescued from an industrial farm by a kind individual. Although they had only spent a brief portion of their lives in the factory farm, they all were sickly and exhibited signs of upper respiratory infections. While this rescue is a testament to the deplorable conditions turkeys are subjected to in factory farms, the recovery of these birds has been remarkable.

After a few months of care, these 24 baby turkeys are beginning to come into their own. Like your companion animals, turkeys are curious and can be very affectionate. Check out this amazing video of the poults taking their very first steps outside.

3. Jude 

Source: AnimalPlace/Youtube

Jude the turkey was rescued by Animal Place Sanctuary from a free-range turkey farm. Before Thanksgiving, 40,000 male turkeys were rounded up, shackled and set on a truck destined for slaughter. Of the 40,000 turkeys, Jude was the sole survivor who managed to escape. The kind person who rescued Jude said that in all the years she knew the farmer they never missed a single turkey set for Thanksgiving … that is until he missed Jude.

Like most other turkeys raised for food, Jude was taken from his mother at a young age and raised in an artificial incubator. He also had the tip of his beak and his long first talons removed to keep him from harming other turkeys in intense confinement. This all occurred on a free-range farm! Thankfully, having escaped his indefinite demise, Jude has come to be a permanent resident of Animal Place, where he will never be asked to give anything but love to his human caretakers.

4. April, May, June, July and August

The quintuplets, April, May, June, July and August came to Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary when they were only a few weeks old. Like the other turkeys featured in this list, these five tiny gobblers were born into the meat industry – hatched in an artificial incubator in a grower shed where they were considered no different from the other 14,000 turkeys who shared their sad fate. As Edgar’s explains, had the poults not been rescued, it is likely they would have been sent to slaughter at the age of 12 weeks old. Thankfully, these turkeys will know many more than a meager 12 weeks in their lifetimes.

While at the farm sanctuary these quints can be spotted taking shelter from the rain under the back porch, scratching at the leaves out in the fields and basking in the sunshine whenever they please.

5. Tomoko

Source: Woodstock Farm Sanctuary/Youtube

Tomoko the female turkey, like Jude and Kona was raised for Thanksgiving. Thankfully, this lovely turkey was able to escape the fate of her fellow factory farmed companions thanks to a group of kind people who rescued her and brought her into Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary for care. Tomoko lives with the scars of other turkeys who have known the horrors of the meat industry – she is missing her front toes and the tip of her beak. However, this fact has not discouraged Tomoko from enjoying every second of freedom she has been given at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Her caretakers describe her as being very sassy and note that she loves to snack on anyone’s fingers who will let her. She is also quite the conversationalist – just watch her in action! 

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