Within a couple of minutes, Olivia had edged herself into my lap! I continued to move my fingers through her down. She laid her head in the crook of my elbow. She fell asleep. I fell in love. I wished I could take her home with me, but I settled for sponsoring her at the sanctuary.
Olivia showed remarkable longevity for a modern turkey. Bred to be deformed, with a grotesquely huge chest for 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 2005, when I received the sad news that the sanctuary's lovely little turkey ambassador, my little ward, had died of cancer.
In Olivia's honor I started to sponsor a new turkey every Thanksgiving. Then, in 2008, I brought two to my home, saved from the local slaughter industry, in order to do a bit of media work. Now I can't imagine "Turkey Day" without live turkeys.