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What happens to the turkeys pardoned by the president?

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(NEXSTAR) – If you can’t eat them, free them.

President Joe Biden is expected to pardon the first turkeys of his presidency on Friday, granting clemency to “Peanut Butter” and “Jelly” and officially sparing them a trip to the White House kitchen.

But what happens to these pardoned turkeys after they leave the White House?

Historically, pardoned turkeys have been shipped to “various places,” according to Beth Breeding, representative of the National Turkey Federation.

The National Federation of Turkey, or NFT, has been providing turkeys for the annual Turkey Day festivities at the White House since 1947. That year, the Truman administration encouraged Americans to participate in “Poultry Free Thursdays. To conserve grain, but quickly faced backlash from the poultry industry – which pointed out that Thanksgiving takes place on Thursdays. After dropping its ‘Poultry Free Thursdays’ promotion, the Truman administration accepted his first turkey from the NFT “and established an annual information window that continues today,” according to the White House Historical Association.

The Truman Library & Museum said President Truman was not the first president to pardon a turkey. Rather, historians say that Kennedy came close in 1963 when he fired a turkey after that year’s presentation ceremony (“Let it go on,” Kennedy reportedly said), although he stopped before grant an official presidential pardon, or use the word “pardon”. at all.

Patricia Nixon and Rosalyn Carter also sent some of their birds, respectively to a farm and a mini zoo. Fairly quickly, sending turkeys to spend their days on a farm “became the norm” under President Reagan, although none of these birds were ever officially pardoned.

That all changed in 1989, during George HW Bush’s first year in power. Bush, noting the presence of animal activists nearby, said during his remarks that the bird in front of him would not be eaten.

“But let me assure you, and that handsome turkey tom, that he won’t end up on anyone’s table, not this guy – he’s got a presidential pardon for now – and will allow him to live out his days on a farm for kids not far from here, ”the president said, according to the White House Historical Association.

President George W. Bush, seen here at the 2005 turkey presentation ceremony, said this year’s turkeys would be sent to live at Disneyland in California rather than Frying Pan Park in Virginia, where they were sent. the previous years. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Many of the turkeys pardoned in the following years were sent to the nearby Frying Pan Farm Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. But in 2005, President George W. Bush announced that the turkeys he had pardoned would have gone to live at Disneyland, where they would serve as the grand marshals of the park’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“Marshmallow and Yam were a little skeptical about going to a place called Frying Pan Park,” Bush joked at the 2005 ceremony.

Birds pardoned at the White House in recent years have also been flown to disney world live their natural lives and, yes, appear in the parade.

Others were shipped to George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, although this practice was discontinued in 2013 because George Washington never had any turkeys at Mount Vernon and therefore would not give a “historically accurate” impression to them. visitors, CNN reported. Turkeys pardoned in subsequent years were sent to live on the estate of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis in Leesburg.

These days, pardoned turkeys are sent to colleges – first Virginia Tech, then Iowa State University – where they served as subjects of study for students in animal science programs.

Peanut Butter and Jelly will also move to an educational institution in Perdue, not far from where they grew up in Indiana. The two turkeys will also have access to a “shady grassy area” at the school, according to Purdue Agriculture.

“They will receive excellent care from veterinarians, professors and students of the Department of Animal Sciences,” a spokesperson for the National Turkey Federation said.

No matter where they go, however, it probably won’t be better than their accommodation in Washington DC.

“Our VIP guests … seem to have slept very well,” joked Ernie Arias, the hotel’s sales and marketing manager at a welcome ceremony Thursday. “They had their bath, and my understanding from our staff was that they actually ordered an in-room meal.”


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