Don't call it a swan song.
President Barack Obama issued his final pardon for two Thanksgiving turkeys, Tater and Tot, today at an annual event that has become as much about the president's delivery of corny jokes as annual clemency for some lucky fowl.
This year, Obama also gave a shout out to all the Thanksgiving turkeys that wouldn't be getting a pass and have a date with the dinner table Nov. 24.
“I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren't so lucky, who didn't get to ride the gravy train to freedom, who met their fate with courage and sacrifice and proved that they weren't chicken,” Obama said at the 69th annual event.
The first Thanksgiving turkeys to visit the White House didn't get a pardon, either. The event was originally meant to showcase turkey meat as a holiday season staple, and Presidents Truman and Eisenhower cooked up their birds.
Both Tater and his alternate, Tot, are 18-week-old, 40-pound turkeys, raised in northwest Iowa by Chris and Nicole Domino, fourth-generation farmers, the White House said. From there, the National Turkey Federation, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group for turkey producers, escorted Tater and Tot to the White House for the ceremony.
After the pardoning, the turkeys are shipped off to their permanent home at Virginia Tech's “Gobblers Rest,” where veterinary students will care for them for the rest of their natural lives.
It's not a long life, though. A wild turkey's average lifespan is about three to four years, but captive turkeys are bred to grow big and grow fast, and their lives are significantly shorter. One notable exception is Courage, the first turkey pardoned by Obama in 2009, who died only this week at relatively ripe age of seven.
Just before sending off the turkeys, Obama, who has reveled in drawing both laughs and groans at the annual event, left the audience with one final quip for the family dinner table.
And when somebody at your table tells you that you're hogging all the side dishes and you can't have any more, I hope that you respond with the creed, “yes we cran,” Obama said.
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