One of the greatest things about the internet is that it is positively saturated with cute animals. It seems like every week there is a new kitten video that everyone is sharing on Facebook. As it should be. Kittens are awesome and–
–I’m sorry, what was I talking about? I was just distracted by this impossibly cute baby turkey. Look at those beautiful eyes!
Turkeys are bringing some serious cuteness to the world of animal videos. In this adorable video from Farm Sanctuary, some rescued baby turkeys go outside for the first time after their rescue.
The little bubs walk around the yard, have some dust baths, and just make your heart melt.
Out in the sun for the first time ever!
These turkeys were left in a box outside of Farm Sanctuary. They had been rescued from a factory farm, but sadly, not before all their beaks were clipped (a standard farming practice). If you’re shocked by this, know that turkeys have no protections under the Federal Humane Slaughter Act, so de-beaking is just the start of the pain to which they are subjected. In a slaughterhouse, you can do whatever you want to a turkey. I’m sure you are all smart enough to imagine what goes on in a violent, consequence-free environment.
One of my favorite parts of the video is when the turkeys are filmed giving themselves dust baths. Dust baths are how many birds, including turkeys, clean themselves. When these birds are kept in cages, they are obviously unable to bathe in anything. Again, I’m sure that’s the least of a turkey’s worries when it is caged. But bathing is such a fundamental ritual for human and non-human animals alike. My cats could easily sit and bathe themselves (and each other—so cute!) for 45 minutes or more. I wonder what it’s like for an animal to never be able to bathe his or her body, to never feel clean once.
Farm Sanctuary, the organization that rescued these birds, organizes an annual Adopt a Turkey project. Each year, the Sanctuary highlights a few of their lovely birds that you can sponsor. These guys are all so cute, it is impossible to pick just one (you can adopt a whole flock—I did not have the lettuce to do it this year, but I hope to someday). Neither my boyfriend nor I could pick just one turkey from the adorable lineup. I eventually had to call my sister and have her pick for me. We sponsored an adorable tom turkey named Turpentine.
Welcome to the Turkey Spa!
When they arrive at Dawn’s home, the turkeys are usually sticky and dirty. The first thing she does is give them a bath and blow-dry. The first time I watched this I was so nervous; I thought it was going to end in wet, panicked turkeys. I was so wrong! The turkeys are calm and still, enjoying the first gentle touch of their lives.
Kiss kiss, darling!
Karen Dawn makes an incredible point in her video as she pampers the turkeys: These birds seek out gentleness and pleasure and shy away from pain, just as other animals, like dogs, do. The video shows her petting and kissing the turkey just as she does with her dog. As Dawn points out, we would be horrified if someone subjected dogs to the same treatment that turkeys experience.
The culturally-imposed mindest that says “Dogs are friends, turkeys are food” is known as speciesism. If you traveled to a nearby, otherwise identical planet and were told “Turkeys are man’s best friend, we eat dogs at Thanksgiving,” you would probably be horrified.
Thanksgiving is a ritual of gratitude. It’s even in the name: We give thanks. This year, I hope that people give more than thanks. I hope they give kindness, and life. It’s a very powerful feeling, to look at an animal and know that it lives because you made a compassionate choice.
If you want to show your gratitude this year, you can sponsor a turkey at Farm Sanctuary. Or just say a simple “No thanks,” when the turkey platter is passed your way. There are so many amazing vegan Thanksgiving options out there, you really won’t miss much.
Do you have any cute animal videos? Do you have any turkey-free recipes that you want to share? How do you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving? We’d love to hear from you in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!