It was touch and go, but listeners of Oxford radio station JACKFM came through for two turkeys at the centre of a tacky and irresponsible publicity stunt that offered an online poll to “keep it” or “cook it”.

The Turkeys Find A New Home
The Turkeys Find A New Home

Now with help from PETA, Sir Brian May, X Factor winner Leona Lewis and the votes of thousands of people, the two turkeys arrived today at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Brentwood, Essex, where they’ll never again face the threat of the abattoir. The birds have been renamed after their celebrity backers.

“Christmas is a time of goodwill, and I’m glad that sentiment has been extended to these two turkeys,” Lewis says. “I look forward to visiting the pair at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary, where they’ll be treated as the living, feeling, intelligent beings they are.”

“Turkeys are sensitive, complex individuals who deserve better than a painful death dictated by the whims of an online poll,” says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “There was no question that PETA would step in to ensure that these animals got the chance to enjoy the holidays – and the rest of their lives – in peace and dignity.”

In nature, turkeys are protective and loving parents as well as spirited explorers who can climb trees and run as fast as 40 kilometres per hour. Turkeys in the wild can live up to 10 years, but those in the meat industry are normally slaughtered between 12 and 26 weeks of age. The young birds are hung upside down from metal shackles and dragged through an electrified bath that can cause them to have full-body tremors. Sometimes the turkeys are still conscious when their throats are slit and they’re placed into a bath of scalding-hot water that’s used to remove their feathers. With so many delicious plant-based options available, including from vegan brands Field Roast and VBites Foods, it’s easy to celebrate Christmas by including animals in our season of goodwill.

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