Presidential turkey pardon prep underway

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Birds of a feather do not all stick together.


Take the two lucky turkeys — the national bird and its alternate — scheduled to be saved from the executioner’s ax by President Trump in a decades-old pre-Thanksgiving White House tradition.

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Sorry eagle, the President has a date with a turkey. 

(HANDOUT/REUTERS)


Unlike 46 million turkeys that’ll end up on dinner plates, the pardoned poultry raised by Carl Wittenburg and his wife Sharlene at their home near Alexandria, Minn., will be living large at Virginia Tech.


“We got confirmation that the pardoned turkeys are coming here,” says Rami Dalloul, an associate professor of animal and poultry sciences who oversees turkey transfers at the college.

Presidential turkey pardons throughout the years


Their new home is called Gobbler’s Rest, a year-old custom enclosure at the college located in Blacksburg, Va. The turkey spot is appointed with comfy wood shavings, White House-inspired art and an outdoor enclosure where birds can soak up the sun.


“We’re set and getting ready for the new birds,” Dalloul tells the Daily News.

Tater and Tot are showing their age but are still curious and friendly. They gobble at people who visit them and at music.


That includes some renovations. The place is already home to Tater and Tot, turkeys saved from the chopping block by former President Obama a year ago.


Now 17 months old, the feathered survivors “are doing well,” says Dalloul, adding that life expectancy is 18 months to two years. “They’re showing their age but are still curious and friendly. They gobble at people who visit them and at music.”

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Pardoned turkeys — these big birds typically tip the scale at between 38 to 45 pounds — are used to the attention, according to presidentialturkey.com.

National Turkey Federation Chairman Carl Wittenburg with the poults (that’s the name for day-old turkeys) in late June that will be part of the 70th turkey presentation.

National Turkey Federation Chairman Carl Wittenburg with the poults (that’s the name for day-old turkeys) in late June that will be part of the 70th turkey presentation.

(Minnesota Turkey Growers Association)


The site explains that potential pardoned poultry experience “increased interaction with people so that, if chosen, any of the birds will be prepared for his role at the White House ceremony.”


The birds are also being raised on fresh water and a healthy diet — corn and soybeans, plus vitamins and minerals — and are provided with shelter from the weather and predators.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 23:  U.S. President Barack Obama (R) pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey, 'Tot,' with his nephews Aaron and Austin Robinson and National Turkey Federation Chairman John Reicks during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House November 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. The President celebrated the 69th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. Hatched and raised in Iowa, the 2016 National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate will retire to 'Gobblers Rest' at Virginia Tech.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Presidential turkey pardons throughout the years


The first official presidential turkey pardon took place in 1989, but the ritual reaches back to 1947 when President Harry S. Truman was presented with a fowl from the National Turkey Federation.

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Trump is known for changing up what Obama has done. Will 45 take a different path to the pardon?


“I hope not,” says Dalloul.

Tags:
featured lifestyle
animals
thanksgiving
holidays
donald trump

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