There are a lot of reasons to love turkeys, the beautiful birds who are often the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving table. For one thing, they’re not so different from our cats and dogs. Like dogs, turkeys love to be cuddled and some of them even love to have their tummies rubbed. They also love to play, but unlike dogs, they enjoy engaging in team sports; if you roll a ball towards a flock of turkeys, you might even see them start a game of soccer. And like cats, turkeys sleep an awful lot — up to 18 hours a day. As unfortunate as it is that every year, 45 million turkeys are killed in the name of giving thanks, there are humans out there working to change the way we see these birds. For example, Farm Sanctuary, a haven for rescued farm animals, holds an annual event called Celebration for the Turkeys where guests and turkeys gather for a big feast for the birds.

Around this time of year, Farm Sanctuary also has a very special visitor called “the turkey fairy.”  National Shelter Director Susan Coston described her first encounter with this mysterious visitor – “when I first arrived at Farm Sanctuary and found my first cardboard box filled with turkey poults on the porch of the white house.” The turkey fairy is known for anonymously dropping off groups of baby birds, often sick and frightened, to the sanctuary so that they can start a new life. Last year, after a coop had been prepared for the arrival of new chickens, Coston was surprised to find a group of 11 turkeys, no more than one month old, huddled together in the hay.

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When the 11 turkeys first arrived at Farm Sanctuary, they were filthy, had upper respiratory infections, and like most turkeys rescued from the meat industry, these babies had been debeaked — a painful process that involved clipping the tip of their beaks without any anesthesia. 

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But after being cleaned up and getting a dose of antibiotics, the young turkeys couldn’t contain their curiosity and began to explore their new home.

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Turkeys are highly social animals, so together, the rescued turkeys formed their own flock.
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Much like our cats and dogs, turkeys love to be cuddled and pet. So, they made friends with humans, too.

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Soon, they were old enough to join the big turkeys — and even though they were nervous at first, they became fast friends.

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The turkeys were even able to join in on the festivities of Farm Sanctuary’s annual Celebration for the Turkeys event, a special day in November where the rescued turkeys are the guests of honor. The girls enjoyed a Thanksgiving vegetable feast just for them.
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We’re so glad that these former farm turkeys have a home at Farm Sanctuary, where they’ll be looked after for the rest of their lives by humans who appreciate them for the complex, intelligent birds that they are. Through their Adopt a Turkey program, Farm sanctuary is able to help even more birds saved from the poultry industry. If you’re interested in helping, you can learn more about the program here.

To learn more about Farm Sanctuary, visit their official website.

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All image source: Animals of Farm Sanctuary