The Bravery of Turkeys
American Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It's a time when friends and family come together to count their blessings and reflect upon all they are thankful for. Sadly though, all those warm, fuzzy feelings are experienced over the dead body of a turkey.
Turkeys are one of the most maligned and misunderstood animals. If you're lucky enough to get to know them, you realize they're actually incredibly sensitive, empathetic and altruistic.
Those traits became painfully clear at a turkey breeding operation we investigated a few years ago. At the facility, injured and dying birds were put into "sick pens" where they were left until they died or workers got around to killing them (once with a shovel, other times with modified bolt cutters that slowly strangled them to death). The turkeys in these pens were separated, with toms in one and hens in another. Each time a worker entered the pen holding the hens, the toms would cry out to them and crowd toward the wire mesh separating them from the hens. One tom had been injured so badly he was literally nothing but a bloody pulp of flesh and bones, yet he too would gather all his remaining strength and try to drag his beaten body over the sharp metal divider to protect the hens. If the worker began beating the hens, this tom would frantically ram the mesh, screaming out to them.
Even in his broken state, this tom would lay his life on the line to protect others.
Tom who tried to protect hens being kicked