Animal Place in Grass Valley provides home for 11 turkeys to live out their lives

While millions of turkeys each year ended up shrink-wrapped and headed for the Thanksgiving dinner table, two were to receive a presidential pardon and 11 others will live out their lives at a Grass Valley farm sanctuary.

The National Turkey Federation estimates that Americans eat 46 million turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner.

At the White House on Wednesday, President Barack Obama “pardoned” two turkeys, who actually had committed no crimes. Nicknamed Tater and Tot, the two big birds are the latest in a long line of turkeys pardoned by presidents and allowed to live out their lives rather than end up on the dinner table.

The official practice of pardoning a turkey just before Thanksgiving started in 1989 with George H.W. Bush.

In Grass Valley, 11 turkeys also will live out their natural lives. The birds have landed at the farm sanctuary called Animal Place.

The birds include five males that were too sick to be sold at a livestock auction and would have been left to die without the sanctuary staff taking them in. At about the same time, six females from an unknown source were dropped off at the sanctuary.

The turkey hens are about 4 months old and have trimmed beaks, indicative of factory-farmed turkeys. The birds will live out their lives at the sanctuary.

The sanctuary was founded in 1988 by Kim Sturla and Ned Buyukmihci with a pig named Zelda that grew very, very big. Today, the sanctuary includes a 600-acre site in Grass Valley and an original 60-acre site in Vacaville, staffed by 14 employees, volunteers and interns.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

Related stories from Sacramento Bee