The turkeys have “sharp claws, sharp beaks and funny red growths on the neck. Snuggling up to them is therefore not the first idea that comes to mind when you see one running in the yard of a farm”. highlighted The Washington Post.
Yet this is the experience that the small network of Gentle Barns wants to share [“Fermes bienveillantes”]three animal sanctuaries located in the states of California, Missouri and Tennessee.
Every year, at Thanksgiving, these three farms encourage the general public to come and meet their turkeys, among other animals rescued from the slaughterhouse.
The public at the rendezvous
According to Ellie Laks, who founded the Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, a suburb of Los Angeles, twenty years ago, the public is fond of these meetings.
She welcomed her first turkey – a female named Printemps – in 2002, and is now at the head of a disparate herd “200 cows, horses, donkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas and a variety of birds ranging from chickens to turkeys”.
After quickly discovering that turkeys could be affectionate, Ellie Laks thought that other people might enjoy cuddling turkeys like her. So she distributed “a few fliers around town offering locals to come over on Thanksgiving for a slice of cake and a turkey cuddle”.
“I had absolutely no idea if this was going to bring peopleshe remembers, but we had a queue of over a hundred people.”
She therefore decided to make it an annual event which she simply baptized “Benevolent Thanksgiving”, with the idea of “to show people that they are gentle and kind creatures”.
Now, for a donation of $50 to the California farm and $25 to the other two farms in the network, all of which operate as non-profit organizations, visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the premises. , a tasting of cakes and hot cider, and of course a cuddle session with the turkeys, while feeding them cranberries and grapes.
As for the most reluctant visitors, they can always opt for an alternative that has become very popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, “a form of therapy called ‘kiss a cow’”reports the daily.