Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Happiest Turkeys On Earth!

The Happiest Turkeys On Earth!

For several years the turkeys pardoned by the President were sent to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Over the last 5 years I’ve enjoyed checking in on the turkeys. At this time there are three left at Disneyland.

When these turkeys arrived at the park they were obese. These turkeys are breed to grow fast and large. They become so obese so fast they will grow large enough to feed a family for the holidays. Sadly most turkeys that are pardoned do not last at the petting zoos they are sent to for more than a few months. The main reasons are they are obese when they get there and that causes too much stress on their bodies to live too long.

One of the turkeys was born and pardoned in 2007 and two were born and pardoned in 2008 so they are 5 and 4 years old! That is really old for a farm breed turkey as they usually live 1-2 years and a testament to the quality of care Disney gives the animals in their care

Disney set up a strict diet and exercise programs for the birds. The exercise program is the most interesting. At first a ‘Lucky’ Cast Members would get on a bike and ride around the exercise enclosure with the birds feeding pan in one hand. One bird at a time was let into the enclosure to chase the Cast Member around. Today the birds are not as fast but they still get a ‘walk’ every day. They chase a Cast Member around either on foot or on a bike.

As recently as 3 months ago I would see a turkey in a pen in the Big Thunder Ranch area. There was only one at a time in the cage because you can house Tom Turkeys together. The last several months I noticed the cage was empty so recently I asked what happened to the turkeys. A Cast Member told me the three old Toms were doing well on the Circle D Ranch, the back stage farm where they house all the animals of the park.

The handlers noticed that the birds were moping and molting when placed ‘onstage’. They figured out the birds are social and like to see each other and other birds. They do not get to see other birds in the Big Thunder Ranch area. The Cast Members became concerned for the health and welfare of the birds so they decided to retire them too the backstage at the Circle D Ranch.

I was told every day the Cast Members come to work they are surprised to see the three birds alive, happy and still healthy. I’m proud of the quality of care Disney gives the animals they have in the park.

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