It’s a bad joke just waiting to be written.

Reporter: Mr. Turkey. You’ve just been pardoned by the president of the United States. What are you going to do now?”

Mr. Turkey: I’m going to Disney World!

Turns out, that’s where the turkeys that are pardoned by the president each Thanksgiving go to live out the rest of their lives. If you are unfamiliar with the 20-year-old tradition of the Presidential Turkey Pardon, you need to check out the photo gallery of turkey pardons here on MNN. Since 2005, after the two turkeys have been pardoned, they get flown to one of Disney’s theme parks here in the U.S. to live out the rest of their lives.

According to Farm Sanctuary, at least half of the turkeys that have been sent to Disney have died within one year of arrival.

Because modern commercially bred turkeys have been genetically manipulated for decades, they are prone to serious health issues that require specialized care. Disney’s track record shows that it simply is not able to provide the level of care necessary to keep these birds healthy, happy and comfortable for years. 
One of the issues is the feed that the turkeys are given. The turkeys are fed a “high-calorie, high-fat diet formulated for rapid weight gain” that may be responsible for their early deaths.

Farm Sanctuary thinks it can do better for these birds that escape being stuffed on our Thanksgiving tables only to be stuffed full of food to die prematurely anyway.

They are asking President Obama to have this year’s turkeys sent to Farm Sanctuary’s shelter in Watkins Glen, N.Y., instead of a Disney theme park. At the shelter they will be given real refuge and “not be shuttled to an amusement park to be displayed as attractions while they await premature death.”  

Farm Sanctuary is asking for your help in getting the President Obama’s attention. They are asking supporters who are U.S. residents to sign an online petition by Nov. 20, 2009, that will be delivered to President Obama in time for him to chose to change the fate of this year’s turkeys.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Where do the pardoned turkeys go?
Farm Sanctuary would like the turkeys pardoned by President Obama to come live with them. You can help get them there.