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'Animal Matters' (November 2012):


Time for Turkeys… Who said they are boring? Or even birdbrained? Read below and “Be nice to yu turkeys dis Christmas...!”

What are turkeys really like?

Now that Christmas is coming, please spare a thought for the billions of turkeys destined to be gobbled up on December 25th, Christmas Day. Not only on Christmas Day worldwide but also on Thanksgiving Day every year in North America.

Did you know that a turkey is a thinking and feeling living being in its own right, one of remarkable intelligence and sensitivity! They are actually beautiful (in their own way of course), clever and inquisitive creatures who, in the wild, really enjoy life and can live up to 12 years and fly at fifty five miles per hour. Benjamin Franklin admired them for their great courage.

“Animals did not come for the purpose of supplying food for human beings. They came to work out their own lives in the world”. (Sathya Sai Baba)

Professor Tom Savage of Oregan University USA says that turkeys are much cleverer than we think and if you throw a football amongst them, they will play football together… well, that takes some initiative, doesn’t it? He also says turkeys are “smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings,” and “social, playful birds who enjoy the company of others. They relish having their feathers stroked and like to chirp, cluck, and gobble along to their favorite tunes. Anyone who spends time with them at farm sanctuaries quickly learns that turkeys are as varied in personality as dogs and cats.”

One true story shows that they are even smart enough to know how to hold up traffic when they need to! Drivers in the USA were surprised to see two wild turkeys walk into a busy road and spread out their wings. One turkey stood on one side facing the traffic and the other one stood on the other side facing the traffic in the opposite direction. Astonished motorists stopped, not knowing what to do next. To their utter amazement, a mother turkey and seven babies suddenly appeared out of the trees and the whole family walked across the road in single file. Then the traffic policemen turkeys dropped their wings and followed, their job well done! (Taken from website: A True Turkey Story submitted by Jan Fredericks.)

Scientists now know that birds of all kinds are not only very intelligent but also emotionally charged beings. Knowing this, brings home to us how sad and incongruous it is that turkeys endure lives of the most awful suffering and painful deaths in factory farms just to serve humankind celebrating Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Lord of Love and Compassion. What would He make of this I wonder... not much I’m afraid. He would wonder how his message of love and compassion has been totally distorted by so many humans. So now that Christmas is coming, please say a prayer or two for the billions of turkeys living in unbearable conditions and often, subjected to shockingly cruel physical abuse (read also emotional here) by those who work there… unfortunately, it is a sad fact that those who work in such places can become callous and brutalised and in fact, some of the abuse reported is so horrifying that one would not want to go into it in such an article as this one.“And the flesh of slain beasts in his body will become his own tomb. For I tell you truly, he who kills, kills himself, and whoso eats the flesh of slain beasts, eats of the body of death… he who kills a beast without a cause, though the beast attack him not, through lust for slaughter, or for its flesh, or for its hide, or yet for its tusks, evil is the deed which he does, for he has turned into a wild beast himself”. Extract from “The Essene Humane Gospel of Christ”...words attributed to Jesus.

Another true story reported by Animal Aid, UK, demonstrates their sentience and even empathy. An undercover investigator who had been working at an abattoir bought two of them to rescue them from slaughter. He called them Adam and Eve. “They were taken to a temporary home with a shed and a yard. Eve, who was badly maimed as a result of life in an intensive farm, spent most of her time in the shed, but Adam loved to wander outside. At feeding time, Adam would not eat straightaway. Instead, he would to the shed to get Eve. Then he would take a beakful of food and drop it on the ground in front of her.” How many human beings would believe that a turkey was capable of altruism? And affection? Luckily these two turkeys were sent to an animal sanctuary and they lived out their lives in freedom and comfort.

I also know of one called Gladys, a rescued turkey, who was, when alive, the most sweet and affectionate companion you could come across. She is now sorely missed by the humans who cared for her.

“The last of the jagnas is the Bhuuthajna – Steps to Comfort and Keep Happy the animal collaborators and companions one has around him – bullocks, cows, goats, horses, which help you by their toil, and dogs, cats and other pets which make your home pleasant and full of joy. You should not keep them hungry or overwork them. If any animals depending on you for love and care sheds one tear in your home or farm, remember you will suffer greatly therefore”. (Sai Baba in Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 9)

Benjamin Zephaniah, a popular present day poet of Jamaican origin and a committed vegan since the age of 16, must be the first person in the world to campaign for turkeys in verse! What a tender hearted person he must be… his poem below is really worth reading for its originality and compassionate humour…

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas

Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun

Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked

An every turkey has a Mum.

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,

Don't eat it, keep it alive,

It could be yu mate, an not on your plate

Say, Yo! Turkey I'm on your side.

I got lots of friends who are turkeys

An all of dem fear christmas time,

Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it

An humans are out of dere mind,

Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys

Dey all hav a right to a life,

Not to be caged up an genetically made up

By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae

Turkeys just wanna hip-hop

Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,

'I cannot wait for de chop',

Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,

Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain

In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called........ Turkey

He said "Benji explain to me please,

Who put de turkey in christmas

An what happens to christmas trees?",

I said "I am not too sure turkey

But it's nothing to do wid Christ Mass

Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be

An business men mek loadsa cash'.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas

Invite dem indoors fe sum greens

Let dem eat cake an let dem partake

In a plate of organic grown beans,

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas

An spare dem de cut of de knife,

Join Turkeys United an dey'll be delighted

An yu will mek new friends 'FOR LIFE'.

(Article written by Mercini Sherratt for Vedanta Empire's charity incentive)

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