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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

All Living Creatures Need a Reason To Be Thankful

Published 11/24/10

I just happened across Thanksgivingworld.com. Rather than exploring things to be thankful for, the website glorifies the U.S. holiday’s traditional meal, offering turkey recipes, Thanksgiving jokes, how best to carve a turkey, and even Thanksgiving poetry, including “Mr. Turkey,” sung to the tune of the childhood classic “Are You Sleeping”:

A turkey mom shelters her chicks.

Mr. Turkey, Mr. Turkey
Nice and fat, nice and fat
I am going to eat you
I am going to eat you
Just like that.
Just like that.

There’s just not much sensitivity to be found for turkeys, especially this time of year. The National Turkey Federation reports that in the United States last year, 247.4 million turkeys were “produced,” a daily death toll in excess of 675,000, or nearly eight turkeys per second. Estimates vary, but the consensus seems to be 45 million or so are slaughtered annually so that Americans can have their traditional Thanksgiving meal. And the conditions in which they are raised, fattened and “processed” are downright brutal.

Turkeys are noble creatures, far from the “dumb animals” that many people say they are. (Does calling them dumb really shield us from the nagging guilt about causing such immense suffering?)

In 2003, an Oregon State University poultry scientist who had spent 30 years studying turkeys said: “I’ve always viewed turkeys as smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings. The dumb tag simply doesn't fit.”

They nest, they clean themselves, they climb trees. Even Thanksgivingworld.com says that turkeys can detect colors, have a range of sight that extends 270 degrees and have a “great sense of taste.” They can fly up to 55 mph and run up to 25 mph. They can live for more than 12 years — although most are slaughtered before 16 weeks and sold as “fryers,” or slaughtered before seven months and labeled “young roasters.”

I could trot out more praise for turkeys, but the sad reality is it won’t much matter. Most Americans think they taste good. That’s all they care to know. But to me, turkeys are simply magnificent, interesting birds who deserve to be left in peace.

Like you, I live as cruelty-free a life as possible. Thanksgiving Day will be no different. I’m thankful to be able to work every day to protect animals from suffering across the globe — including giving turkeys a break.

Blogging off,
Will

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