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President Obama pardons Thanksgiving turkeys

Ronald Reagan pardoned the first turkey in 1987

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

Two turkeys received official pardons from President Obama on Wednesday, relieving them of their Thanksgiving duties.

“I hereby pardon you from the Thanksgiving table, and we hope that you have a wonderful time at Gobblers Rest,” President Obama told Tator, a turkey raised by the Domino family in Iowa.

Gobblers Rest is a facility at Virginia Tech where veterinarians will care for Tater. A companion from the same farm, Tot, will also join Tator at Gobblers Rest.


While Tator and Tot received presidential pardons, other turkeys across the United States received immunity in their states.

Tater and Tot could not be reached for comment.

Utah’s Department of Agriculture used a Twitter poll to determine which turkeys would receive a pardon.

Sir Featherbottoms, a 41-pound tom turkey raised by the Christensen family, and Mr. Gobbles, were chosen. The two will live out the rest of their days at Thanksgiving Point.

“The turkey pardon is intended to recognize the importance of Utah agriculture and the bounty of safe and nutritious food produced by Utah’s 18,000 farmers and ranchers,” the department said in a release.

According to the White House Historical Association, the tradition of pardoning turkeys can be linked back to Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

The organization says a turkey was brought home for Christmas dinner, but Lincoln’s son lobbied for its life to be spared.

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