Turkeys are a tradition for many Thanksgiving meals, but the Peace Ridge Sanctuary in Penobscot includes its birds in a different way.
They’re getting a platter for “Gentle Thanksgiving.”
“We’ll give them a tray like this, where they have lots of different little treats for themselves,” explains Daniella Tessier, founder of Peace Ridge.
We met Fiona, Coretta, Rosa and Napolean, the regal Tom turkey – but like many animals rescued by the sanctuary, these birds didn’t always have such a carefree life.
“Most of our turkeys are factory-farmed birds, they’re coming from a number of situations,” Tessier explains. “Sometimes families will buy them at feed and seeds wanting to slaughter them themselves for the holidays and they get to know them.”
We’re told when people come to the sanctuary and meet a turkey for the first time, they’re often surprised by the interaction.
“They’re actually really, really smart.” Tessier tells. “They’ll follow you around like little puppy dogs. Turkeys are really so much more than we think that they are.”
Tessier hopes a bond between people and these feathered-critters will make people think twice about that Thanksgiving dinner.
“46 million of these great birds that we hang out with every day are killed for this one holiday.”
That estimate, from the National Turkey Foundation, is for this year alone. Tessier hopes the Gentle Thanksgiving at the sanctuary is symbolic in redefining the holiday.
“We’re trying to get people to see they’re a part of our family, they’re not meant to be on a table. So, it’s a gesture for them and they’re safe and they’re never going to be killed for a holiday meal and instead we’re going to give them a holiday meal.”
If you want to get better acquainted with a turkey, check out the Sanctuary’s Sponsor An Animal program.