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Saved from certain death, Staten Island turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving at upstate sanctuary

A group of Staten Island turkeys saved from slaughter this year will be treated to a special fruit and vegetable Thanksgiving feast at an upstate sanctuary.

These guys will feast this Thanksgiving, but not on turkey.

A group of Staten Island turkeys saved from slaughter in September will be treated to a "special fruit and vegetable" meal at a Hudson Valley animal sanctuary.

"Raspberries, grapes, bananas and pumpkins — turkeys love pumpkin," said Kathy Stevens, founder and director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary where the 28 turkeys now live.

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This summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began rounding up turkeys that have lived for over a decade on the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Center in Staten Island. The birds were euthanized at a food processing facility because of health risks.

After federal and state agencies partnered with outraged animal rights, some of the birds —a unique hybrid of wild and domesticated turkeys —were taken to the sanctuary.

Stevens said the turkeys are "right at home" on the 110-acre property.

"They roost in the trees and on the fences of the pasture," she said.

Some of the turkeys have also become friendly with the sanctuary's chickens.

"They're happy, some of them are losing their fear and are becoming very curious," Stevens said.

But many of their brethren aren't as lucky, said David Karopkin, of GooseWatch NYC, which continues to protest the deaths of the turkeys and other birds in the city.

Another group was rounded up in October, Karopkin said. At least 50 turkeys still live on the same animal grounds in Staten Island and in the surrounding neighborhood.

"Right now the only thing people are seeing is that they're bothering some people," he said.

Though Karopkin said he expects no more turkeys to be killed until spring, he hopes to continue to pressure governmental agencies to find another way to control the population, as he did with Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

"I still think theres some viable alternatives that haven't been put on the table," he said.

As for Thanksgiving tables, Karopkin and Stevens urged New Yorkers to consider vegan options.

Some 45 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving, Stevens said.

"At this time of year, that we consider having compassion others, we should have compassion for the animals as well," she said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders

 
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