Eileen and Shannon were scared and exhausted when they arrived at our New York Shelter. The two turkeys bore the blunted appendages that identify industry birds: Using no anesthetics, producers amputate the birds’ toe tips and portions of their beaks to mitigate damage from fighting, which is rampant among turkeys on factory farms. Crowded against each other in dim, squalid warehouses, these naturally social and affable birds are unable to establish a functional pecking order and become stressed and combative. This life of misery ends at the slaughterhouse for hundreds of millions of turkeys every year in the U.S., 46 million of whom are killed for Thanksgiving alone. Most of these creatures are hidden from view and kept from the expression of their own natures from their first breath to the last brutal moments of their lives.
But the paths of a lucky few are diverted from this violent course. Thanks to the intervention of a compassionate person, Eileen and Shannon never made it to the slaughterhouse. They ended up at Farm Sanctuary instead, and we were delighted to welcome them into our shelter family. Once we ushered them into a warm, clean stall, the frightened turkeys began to relax. They realized they were at last safe, pretty soon they were out and about with their new flock. In the space and comfort of their new home, Eileen and Shannon’s cheerful, inquisitive personalities have emerged. They love to peck in the grass and explore their pasture, constantly talking to each other and their new friends, utterly absorbed in the important business of being turkeys.