Intrepid Turkeys Find Their Forever Home
On the Road
In early 2013, our New York Shelter took in 23 baby turkeys who had fallen out of a transport truck in North Carolina (read the full rescue story here.) The youngsters had a pleasant stay at the shelter, chattering up a storm every day and rushing en masse to the feet of anyone who paid them a visit. But for 18 of them, the journey wasn’t quite over.
On a cold, snowy day in February, placement coordinator Colin Henstock drove six of the turkeys — Anton, Royo, Jasper, Paolo, Carl, and Lucian — to VINE Sanctuary in Vermont. As soon as they were released into their new barn, the turkeys began exploring and, true to character, chowing down on their first VINE meal.
Then, in March, Colin and caregiver Melody embarked on a much longer trip. The two loaded twelve of the rescued turkeys into our new transport van and headed to Florida.
At 7:30 a.m., the van made its first drop-off at Rooterville, a sanctuary in Melrose, Florida. There, six of the twelve, Manolo, Manuel, Vicente, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio, were glad to disembark into some beautiful weather.
As the turkeys checked out their new digs, their drivers had the chance to check in with some other former Farm Sanctuary animals now living at Rooterville. Christopher and Betty, two of the piglets born to rescued gestation sow Julia, had made the trip not long before. They ran alongside the van as it pulled up and followed Colin and Melody all over the shelter while Rooterville staff showed them around. The travelers were also greeted by steers Tinsel and Holly, who have been at Rooterville since last winter. Colin, who had lifted this pair from a stockyard floor when they were sick calves too weak even to stand, was overwhelmed to see them all grown up.
Then it was on to CJ Acres Animal Rescue Farm in Keystone Heights, Florida . There the remaining six passengers, Sly, Pollock, Picasso, Damien, Claude, and Raphael, settled into a large stall in their new barn to get their bearings before meeting the rest of the shelter’s residents. Slices of watermelon were waiting for them, and, although at first they were suspicious of this unfamiliar treat, the turkeys were soon gobbling it down. It was clear they could get used to this.
In just a few weeks, the adopting sanctuaries reported that all the turkeys have made themselves at home.
Home at VINE
At VINE, the young birds roamed farther and farther afield as the snow finally melted. Once spring arrived in earnest, they had more than five acres to enjoy. Says VINE co-founder Miriam Jones, “They’re getting along with mostly everyone, although on occasion they are trying to throw their weight around a bit too much with the roosters (who do their best to keep them in line).” The turkeys have also learned to love kale. Because industrial breeding predisposes factory turkeys to excessive weight gain, a nutritious diet is important for these birds. We’re glad Anton and his friends are eating their greens!
So are the turkeys at Rooterville. Founder Elaine West tells us that they’re investigating the shelter and eating leaves, grass, and anything else green they can find. The tight group of friends is also staying busy hunting for bugs. “They are a lot of fun!” she tells us.
Happy at CJ Acres
Meanwhile, at CJ Acres, Sly and friends continue to feast on fruit, including watermelon, honeydew, grapes, pineapple, and cantaloupe. Co-founder Lee Sackett tells us that the newcomers have been enjoying their interactions with fellow turkey resident Thomas, as well as the shelter’s rescued chickens, sheep, goats, and feral cats. “What they find most amazing, though,” says Lee, “is the two-legged human creatures that tend to their needs. Apparently, ‘personal space’ was never taught in turkey-manners class, and they rush to the volunteer bringing a new tasty treat to sample, pressing up against the gate and making it nearly impossible to open. Often, the words ‘Boys… Manners!’ can be heard echoing across the acreage.”
Thanks to three wonderful shelters in our rescue and adoption network, 18 turkeys once headed to a bleak warehouse are now immersed in lives of richness and variety — lives to match their keen intelligence, sociability, and curiosity. Months after they tumbled from that livestock truck, their journey is finally over. But the adventure has just begun.