| 8.6°C Dublin

gobble-smacked Meet Ireland's luckiest turkeys who are set to dodge the Christmas dinner table

Close

Samantha and Seraphina with Sagana Santhirasegaran and Susan Anderson of Little Hill Animal Rescue

Samantha and Seraphina with Sagana Santhirasegaran and Susan Anderson of Little Hill Animal Rescue

Samantha and Seraphina with Sagana Santhirasegaran and Susan Anderson of Little Hill Animal Rescue

Meet Ireland's luckiest turkeys who are set to dodge the dinner table for the fifth Christmas in a row.

Plucky Seraphina and Samantha were saved from the slaughterhouse by a Kildare animal rescue in 2015.

Now the two white turkeys will even get to gobble down their very own festive feast this Friday.

"Seraphina and Samantha adore strawberries," says LittleHill Animal Rescue founder Susan Anderson, "so I always try and get them some for Christmas dinner.

"While most turkeys are slaughtered at about six months old, this is their fifth Christmas with us.

"They are definitely two very lucky girls!"

Animal lover Susan cares for around 250 critters, including cats, dogs, goats, pigs and hens at the non-profit sanctuary just outside Naas - and each December gives one of the beleaguered birds a ho-ho-home too.

"Every year we take in a turkey or goose for Christmas," she explains.

"Basically, I ring one of the local producers to book a turkey - then say, 'I want it alive'.

"They probably think I'm bloodthirsty and want to kill it myself when I get home!

"Generally, we take the bockety ones that they wouldn't get much for, and they live with us then for the rest of their lives.

"We also have another little girl called Ivy, who is living up in a foster home in Terenure."

Almost a million turkeys won't be quite as fortunate in homes across the country later this week. But vegetarian Susan argued that most people don't even particularly like the famously dry meat.

"What really galls me is people saying, 'I'm sick of the sight of turkey'," she tells.

"I feel like saying, 'Well why did you kill it then?'

"Let's face it, it's pretty tasteless without a decent gravy or sauce on it - most of it gets thrown out.

"My favourite part of the dinner is the trimmings - roast potatoes, stuffing, Brussels sprouts and Bisto gravy.

"Honest to God, you wouldn't miss it."

Close

Two of the luckiest turkeys in Ireland, Samantha and Seraphina

Two of the luckiest turkeys in Ireland, Samantha and Seraphina

Two of the luckiest turkeys in Ireland, Samantha and Seraphina

Alec Baldwin, Joaquin Phoenix and Shia LaBeouf are just some of the stars who went cold turkey for Thanksgiving after signing a Turkey-Free Pledge launched by US charity Farm Sanctuary last month.

Despite being a staple of the traditional Christmas dinner, Susan insisted the birds make great pets, too.

"Turkeys have their own little personalities," she says.

"They probably wouldn't be as sociable as the hens, but if you go over they'll interact with you.

"Seraphina and Samantha are adorable - they just potter about and, in the summer, they lay eggs. They're very quiet and ladylike - the males would be a bit more boisterous.

"The hens are very greedy, and would be trying to rob their food, so we have to follow them around and make sure they get something.

"They also go potty for iceberg lettuce, sweetcorn, grapes, apple and pineapple."

Animal advocate Susan has, meanwhile, helped rescue over 50,000 battery hens from factories nationwide.

And she urged others to consider swapping their turkey sandwiches for a feathered friend this Yuletide.

"Turkeys are extremely low-maintenance pets," she says. "They do need somewhere nice and warm and dry to sleep. And they obviously need food and water every day - but they're no trouble at all.

"They just go out and pick at the grass during the day and gurgle away happily."

"The natural lifespan of a turkey is up to 15 years," adds Susan. "But meat turkeys are sort of Frankenstein birds that have been genetically modified to grow big and fat quickly, so their life expectancy is probably a bit shorter and sometimes their little legs can struggle.

"People think you wouldn't get that attached to them - but you do.

"Hopefully Seraphina and Samantha will have lots more Christmases to come!"


Turkey facts that'll leave you gobblesmacked

  • LittleHill Animal Rescue's next hen rescue takes place nationwide next Saturday and Sunday - see www.facebook.com/littlehillanimalrescue
  • A male turkey's 'gobble' can be heard up to a mile away.
  • A wild turkey (right) can run at speeds of 25mph on the ground.
  • You can tell a turkey's sex and age from their poop.
  • As well as gobble, turkeys often cluck, yelp or even purr.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World


Privacy