Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y., started an online petition, asking the president to let the national turkeys find homes in their turkey shelter instead of in the Magic Kingdom, Mother Nature Network reports.
"Historically these turkeys have been actually sent to farms where they're supposed to live out their lives, but they don't live very long lives," Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur told Slashfood.
"At Disneyland they don't' know how to properly care for them, and they feed them in such a way that they become overweight, which is what typically happens to these birds," he said. "We're hoping the president will send them to Farm Sanctuary where they will get the best care possible."
Since 2005 the national turkeys have found homes in Disneyland's Frontierland and have served as grand masters of the park's Thanksgiving Day parade.
At least half of the turkeys that have been sent to Disneyland, however, have died within one year of arrival, Farm Sanctuary told MMN. Disney did not respond to Slashfood's request for comment.
"These birds have been genetically bred to grow very fast and very large. Its common for them to die of a heart attack at just a year old or even younger sometimes," Baur said. "To prevent that you need to feed them a high-fiber diet that provides them with nutrients but that won't make them put on weight."
Farm Sanctuary has written a letter to the White House but has yet to get a response, Baur said. The White House declined to comment.
"Farm animals like all animals have feelings and they deserve to be treated with respect and given the best life possible," he said. "We're offing that here, and we hope the president takes us up on that."
If the national turkeys do wind up at Farm Sanctuary, they have next year's Thanksgiving feast to look forward to, Baur said. The shelter spends Thanksgiving feeding traditional fare to the turkeys. "They're the guests of honor instead of the main course."
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