Not all turkeys are raised for human consumption. Some become snake food. When one regular customer went to a farm supply store to pick up baby turkeys, also known as poults, for his snakes, the store worker held one young turkey back. This turkey just had too much personality, the worker said. The little bird loved to show off, and he loved attention. The worker had grown fond of him, and he couldn’t bear to send him off to be eaten alive by a snake.
Instead, the store worker gave the baby turkey to another local man. This man didn’t know much about caring for turkeys, and he ran into trouble from the start. This poult was large in spirit, but, physically, he was so small and weak that he couldn’t hold his own against his new roommates, chickens who didn’t want to share their food with a strange newcomer. This charming young turkey had avoided being eaten, but now he couldn’t get enough to eat. Life was rough for him until he grew large enough to assert himself in the flock.
As he grew, the caregiver and his mother realized that keeping this turkey long term was not an option for them. With Thanksgiving approaching, the mother worried that her son might give the turkey to someone who would see him as dinner rather than as the amazing individual she had come to know.
Once again this turkey’s winning personality was his salvation. The caregiver’s mother fell head-over-heels for the sweet boy and made it her mission to save him from slaughter and find him a loving home. The quest led her to call our Northern California Shelter, and, shortly thereafter, the young bird, whom we named Tibbott, settled into a cozy stall in our shelter hospital and immediately charmed his way into the hearts of a whole new set of friends.
Tibbott’s wing feathers stick out horizontally rather than lying against his body. Unfazed by this quirk, however, Tibbott exudes confidence. This young fellow loves company and is always eager to impress. He can usually be found hanging around the gate of his stall waiting for someone to walk by, at which point — POOF! — he fans his feathers, gathers himself into his most impressive posture, and struts for all he’s worth. When Northern California Shelter Director Tara Oresick took him outdoors for the first time, he followed her everywhere as if to say, “See how handsome I am!” Tibbott sometimes indulges in gobbling vs.crowing matches with Carey, the rooster who lives next door to him, but before long he’s back to his modeling duties on his paddock runway.
Presented with his endearingly outsized personality, the people who met Tibbott recognized him as an individual. His vivacity made it abundantly clear that he was someone, not something, and that saved his life, twice. Not every turkey, pig, sheep, or cow advertises his or her individuality as sensationally as Tibbott does, but each one of them deserves to be recognized — and to live — every bit as much.