DawnWatch: Olivia on Washington Post Radio and other turkey friendly coverage and opportunities — 11/23/06

November 25th, 2006 5:17 pm by Kelly Garbato

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Nov 23, 2006 12:53 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Olivia on Washington Post Radio and other turkey friendly coverage and opportunities — 11/23/06

During the 12-1 hour today, on Thanksgiving, Washington Post Radio broadcast a 3 minute piece I recorded about my meeting with the turkey Olivia. It was broadcast right in the middle of a call-in show where people were chatting about turkey cooking recipes. Perfect! I will paste the text below so you can read it.

Earlier in the hour, before my piece was broadcast, I heard a caller, warm and friendly, tell the hosts that she had seen footage from the Butterball turkey plant (check out http://www.goveg.com/feat/butterball/butterball.asp ) and was horrified by the treatment, so she was cooking veggie pot pies this year, and adopting a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. You’ll find a lovely article and a beautiful slide show about the Farm Sanctuary “Feed the Turkeys” and adoption programs at http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/16073776.htm. You can post comments on that page. Please do!

And here is a video from the turkey celebration at Animal Acres near Los Angeles:

The caller on today’s Washington Post Radio show made me realize what a wonderful opportunity we have to add a warm voice of compassion to the turkey talk on the airwaves today. If you are having a veggie feast, please consider making a friendly call about it when your local station takes callers. And please let me know if you do — you will make my day!

Here’s the text of my Olivia piece broadcast on Washington Post Radio. It would be great if Washington Post Radio got some notes of appreciation. Positive feedback for animal friendly coverage encourages more of it. The station takes comments at comment [at] washingtonpostradio.com.

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At Thanksgiving, I remember Olivia. I met her in the year 2000 at Poplar Springs farm animal sanctuary near Washington DC. Having fallen for Babe, the movie star, I thought I was there to meet the pigs. But Terry, the sanctuary owner, started our tour at the turkey coop.

Terry opened the gate, and introduced Olivia. Olivia had been living on a turkey factory farm till Hurricane Floyd wiped out it. Ironically that hurricane saved her from a particularly gruesome death; turkeys are not covered under federal Humane Slaughter laws.

Olivia hobbled through the gate – “hobbled” because the ends of her toes had been cut off. That’s standard practice on farms where jam-packed birds sometimes attack each other. For the same reason the end of her beak had been seared off. That procedure is painful, since turkeys use their beaks to explore for food, so they are loaded with nerve endings. But Terry explained that it is cheaper to hack off the ends of toes and beaks then to give animals enough space.

I was sitting cross-legged on the grassy hill near the coop. To my surprise, Olivia limped in my direction. She came close enough for me to reach out and touch her – gingerly. She moved further in, and I could pet her. It was surprisingly like petting my dog.

I reached my fingers under the outer feathers on her back and could feel a layer of soft down underneath. I had only ever felt that down in luxury pillows. How odd, and lovely, to feel it warm, on a living being.

Within a couple of minutes, Olivia had edged herself into my lap! I continued to move my fingers through her down. She lay her head in the crook of my elbow. She fell asleep. I fell in love.

And I adopted her. I couldn’t take her home, but her photograph has been in the middle of our Thanksgiving table, surrounded by a vegetarian feast, for the last five years.

Olivia showed remarkable longevity for a modern turkey. Bred to be deformed with a grotesquely huge chest with lots of ‘white meat’, she’d been too weak to stand when she had arrived at the sanctuary. But apparently a home with space to move, grass to enjoy, sunshine in which to bathe, and loving care, had given her the will to live. And live she did, happily, until last year when we received the sad news that the sanctuary’s lovely little turkey ambassador, my little ward, had died of cancer.

This year we are heading to a local farm animal sanctuary to adopt another rescued turkey. We’ll add a new photo to our Thanksgiving table arrangement. But Olivia’s will stay in the center. She changed our Thanksgivings forever, and nobody can ever take her place.

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Wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To discontinue, go to http://www.DawnWatch.com/nothanks.php. You are encouraged to forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts but please do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)

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