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9 Turkey Truths 'Free Birds' Didn't Tell You

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Posted November 15, 2013 by Nina Kahn

If you’ve seen Free Birds, then you already know that it’s a cute new kids’ movie that tells the story of two turkeys who travel back in time to the very first Thanksgiving in order to get turkeys OFF the menu. Reggie, Jake, and the other turkey stars of the film are totally loveable and full of personality (just like real-life turkeys!)—it’s the perfect movie to watch with your younger siblings!

Turkeys in the real world are really smart, but unfortunately, they haven’t *quite* mastered time travel—which means that the only way to get turkeys off the standard Thanksgiving menu is for us to just STOP eating them. Need a little more motivation? Here are nine truths about the REAL turkeys who are forced to suffer and give their lives for this cruel holiday tradition:

1. They are social butterflies.

Turkeys looove greeting visitors, making new friends, and being around others. They can even recognize human faces!poplar-spring-turkey-crop

2. They’re natural athletes.

For real! These guys can fly at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour and run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour—impressive!

turkey in the snow

3. They can live for up to 10 years in the wild.

But on factory farms, they’re slaughtered at just 5 months old. :(

turkey at poplar spring animal sanctuary

4. They make great moms.

Baby turkeys will stay with their moms for the first five months of their lives, creating a really close bond. And turkey mamas are totally brave and won’t hesitate to defend their families against possible danger!

rescued baby turkeysPhoto by: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

5. They are natural detectives.

Turkeys are naturally curious animals and always interested in checking out new sights and smells.

curious wild turkey

6. They’re music lovers.

It’s true! They love gobbling along to their favorite jams.

turkey close up colorful

7. Male turkeys are ladies’ men.

Male turkeys are bigger than females, and their feathers are much more colorful (good thing they’re all born with full-color vision!). They get the lady turkeys’ attention with the colorful flaps of skin around their necks, called “wattles,” and the little beards that hang from their chests. Whatever floats your boat, turkeys.

male turkey with  hearts

8. They have hobbies (that don’t actually include pizza and telenovelas).

Turkeys who aren’t trapped on factory farms spend their days hanging out with their family members, building nests, searching for snacks, taking dust baths, preening themselves, and hangin’ out high up in the trees.

turkeys on a farmPhoto by: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

 9. Forty-five MILLION turkeys are killed every Thanksgiving.

Pretty horrific, right? And that’s after most have been pumped full of antibiotics and packed into filthy, cramped sheds for months—only to have their throats slit while they’re still conscious.

Love turkeys, don't eat them

Unlike the characters in Free Birds, turkeys trapped on factory farms don’t have a chance at a happy ending. So before you decide to hit up a rotting carcass for your Thanksgiving dinner, think about all the ways in which turkeys are just like you and me—and check out some cruelty-free (and totally delish) turkey alternatives!

Here’s our version of an animated Thanksgiving story:

Give real-life turkeys something to be thankful for this year and GO VEGAN!

go vegan pledge

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