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Turkey Pardon: What Is The Thanksgiving Tradition And What Happens to Those Birds?


Turkey pardoning (Photo Credits: Getty Images)

The holiday season is here and the preparations have already begun. The festive observance of Thanksgiving 2019 will be marked on November 28 this year. And when you say Thanksgiving, there will be a nice traditional feast with Turkey spread in center among the other traditional dishes by the side. But while all prepare for this grand feast, there is another event which takes place at the White House, the Presidential Turkey Pardon. Each year, US President where two turkeys are chosen to be freed and live on a life, away from the fear of being killed for their meat. But who started this tradition and what happens to these pardoned birds? Let us know more about this annual Thanksgiving tradition. Thanksgiving 2019 Dinner Ideas: Vegan Turkey Substitutes That Will Ensure Your Gratitude Day Is Absolutely Delicious!

What is Turkey Pardon?

Like every festival celebration has a specific feast or a delicacy prepared at the time, Thanksgiving feast has a Turkey for dinner. An estimated of 46 million birds are killed around this holiday. But in Turkey Pardon event, at least one or two birds are relieved from the tradition and sent to shelter homes. Done by the President of the country, it is called as presidential pardoning of the turkey.

Who Started the Turkey Pardon?

From the 1870s, turkeys have been presented as gifts to American presidents. Well-fed birds were sent to the White House. John F. Kennedy is said to have pardoned a turkey on November 19, 1963, asking to let it be free. He had  received a turkey from the Poultry and Egg National Board. Later on presidents kept this tradition alive.

It is also said that Abraham Lincoln was the first president to unofficially pardon a turkey. His son had grown very fond of the turkey and Lincoln himself was an animal lover.

What Happens to the Pardoned Birds?

These pardoned birds are then sent to their new home, “Gobblers Rest” in Virginia. These birds are taken well care of by the students and veterinarians within Virginia Tech’s Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences. They are well-fed and protected from any kind of predators. People can also pay a visit here and learn more about the process. They can learn on research and outreach programs in animal and poultry sciences and veterinary medicine.

Watch Video of 2018 Turkey Pardon:

Last year, US President Donald Trump pardoned turkeys named Peas and Carrots, who were from South Dakota. They were raised on a farm near Huron. Another thing that people look up to during turkey pardoning is the political satire by the presidents during the speech.

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