Sarasota News Leader

11/16/2012

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Sarasota News Leader November 16, 2012 November 2, 2012 bird. He's aggressive and knows how to es- cape." She reported the Kennedy grandkids had a swell time chasing after it for three days around her Hyannis Port property during their Thanksgiving sojourn. She also gave a detailed description to claim ownership: "Black with a red head." This caused some local residents to advertise: "Missing pet squirrel, gray with black whiskers." So much for the silly side of the Wild Turkey ... The Wild Turkey is widespread and endemic to all U.S. states except Alaska. One exception is when former Gov. Sarah Palin who, during a 2008 press conference, "pardoned" a Thanks- giving Domesticated Turkey against the back- drop of a turkey slaughterhouse while turkeys were actually in the process of being execut- ed. Warning: necessary gore. THE OTHER TURKEYS Now to its subspecies, M. farmraisedo: Do- mesticated Turkeys are as beautiful as wild ones and can have a varied spectrum of col- ors. Mesoamericans of central Mexico domes- ticated these birds some 2,000 years ago, using their eggs and meat as a staple protein source and their feathers to decorate garments and headdresses. European explorers and settlers in the early 16th century brought these turkeys to Europe and then reintroduced their newly bred stock back into the Americas when they colonized those lands. Now bred exclusively for weight and human consumption, these turkeys cannot fly, but they certainly can hop and are a lively, gre- garious lot. Page 73 Although bronzed-feathered varieties are raised, the great majority of Domesticated Turkeys are bred white to make their pin feathers less visible after their carcasses are plucked and dressed. The Broad Breasted White variety is the most famous breed and the one frequently chosen for the Thanksgiv- ing presentation to the First Family. The concept of a National Turkey Pardon Day is a delightful one. Truman is credited with the first turkey "pardon" in 1947, but facts do not support this. Ceremonially, the tradition began in 1989 when President George H. W. Bush granted the first official presidential par- don. This light-hearted occasion, usually tak- ing place in the Rose Garden, always brings a smile to everyone, regardless of party affil- iation. The presentation Thanksgiving turkey is se- lected when he is a poult (only a couple of hens have ever been selected), and he is raised to handle the noisy crowds and paparazzi with great aplomb. Unfortunately, he is also raised to be the ne plus ultra model of turkey breed- ing; meaning he is huge and grossly obese, and he suffers from heart disease and all its relat- ed illnesses. These turkeys do not live much longer than a year after their pardon. But their last months are pleasantly comfortable ones. In the past, pardoned turkeys were sent to Frying Pan Park, VA, (I checked it out and it actually is a park, not a fast-food chain as the name suggests!) and even to our own Flori- da Disney World, where they once performed as grand marshals in Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Currently, President Obama's pardoned turkeys are sent to Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.

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