When we talk of love, what do we mean? An altruistic and affectionate love that compels us to protect another? Or are we talking about something we take pleasure from, a self-fulfilling love? The word is one and the same, but it has many different meanings. And deeper than that, the consequences of how we express that love are worlds apart.
Here at Edgar’s, we love Marty Turkey. Everyone who enters our sanctuary gates and is welcomed by Marty and his brother Ivan fall head over heels for the duo. Sadly, it’s not usually love at first sight as visitors are initially a little aghast at these two strange, giant creatures who don’t match their picture of what a turkey should look like. Wild turkeys, with their dark feathers and slender necks, aren’t revered for their physical beauty, but they’re svelte and effective, with the means to fly and perch in trees for safety. They are perfectly evolved beings able to thrive in their natural habitat.
Then we have Marty, he and his domestically raised kin have been selectively bred to grotesque proportions for the sake of commercial gains. They have been engineered to grow big and fast with as little feed as possible, leaving these poor creatures with developing bones burdened under the weight of oversized muscles. In Australia, turkeys are afforded a similar existence to ‘broiler chickens’ – they are packed together in huge sheds and denied everything natural that would satisfy their instincts and give meaning to their lives.
So for every visitor and passerby, Marty and Ivan will fluff up their feathers and shake into a serenading dance while their fleshy snoods droop and their heads turn bright red with excitement. Marty is even partial to some gentle patting. They will both be guides for the day and follow the new humans on their tour, and along the way Marty and Ivan will endear themselves to every single person with their funny, gentle ways.
Today the US celebrates Turkey Lovers’ Day. A StreetInsider.com article brightly opens with: “America’s love of turkey surrounds the opening of summer grilling season with the smoky flavors of turkey burgers, turkey tenderloin and turkey drumsticks.” And there’s that word, “love”.
People can love the taste of turkey meat for the fleeting flavours that pass over a tongue, but Marty will show you that turkeys are not simply hosts for burgers, tenderloin and drumsticks. Before that, they are thinking and feeling animals who love to feel the sun on their backs as they peck around in the grass and scratch in the dirt. Come and sit with Marty and watch him proudly strut his stuff, revelling in the glory of your attention, and you’ll understand.
To truly love turkeys, or any animal for that matter, it must be with consideration and respect for the life they want to keep and rightly deserve. So on Turkey Lovers’ Day, all of us turkey lovers will spare a thought for turkeys who will never know of the kindness that exists in this world. We’ll also think of the ones we know and have known, who have plodded their merry ways right into the warmest depths of our hearts.