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Farewell To Michael, An Unforgettable Girl

Michael. Our people-loving, heart-opening, sassy-girl turkey. She passed quickly and unexpectedly in her sleep after a day filled with her favorite things: roaming the Sanctuary, stealing snacks, getting hugs from her humans, doing her dinosaur run, and monopolizing the fan. Words cannot capture the scope of our grief.

“Mikey” liberated herself at an early age, presumably from a turkey farm. We imagine she took one look around, and said, “I can do better.” That’s precisely what she did. Michael was brought to CAS by the staff member who found her — whom she was named after, before we discovered she was a girl. By the time we realized, Michael knew her name and that name stuck. She defied gender expectations just as she defied species expectations. Countless visitors couldn’t believe their eyes when they met Michael, a turkey who not only didn’t fear humans but who actively sought their attention, following them around, pressing her chest into their legs, and spreading her wings to ask for hugs. For Michael, humans were only ever “friends,” and she invited us to imagine a reality where this could be true for all animals — for they want the same things as you and I. After twenty years of living and working among them, we know that for sure.

We’re crushed that we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to our precious, game-changing, larger-than-life Michael, but we’re comforted that she never had a moment of suffering. Michael never knew a bad day, never knew pain. There too, she invites us to imagine a better world for all the turkeys just like her. They deserve a happy, love-filled life like she had.

Right now, while we mourn the turkey so many of us loved, millions of turkeys are being hatched to die for this year’s Thanksgiving. Each one of those is as unique and lovable and worthy of kindness as our Michael. In her honor, we invite you to choose a vegan Thanksgiving this holiday season.We included two dozen recipes and product suggestions at the bottom of this blog post to get you started — and if you have questions, just leave us a comment and we’ll help!

If you’re free, we hope you’ll join us at 1:00 for our Virtual Sanctuary segment on Facebook to honor Michael’s memory.

Sanctuary staff & friends share memories of Michael:

“The depth of our collective pain surely is indicative of that precious being’s indelible imprint on thousands of beings–very likely some of our animals are experiencing the loss as well.” – Kathy Stevens, Sanctuary Founder

“I watched her be the first resident to greet hundreds of tour guests and change their minds forever about turkeys. I watched her steal snack bags out of the bottoms of strollers, receive the perfect back rubs from Gabby, get gingerly set into her pool by Annie on hot days, and had the pleasure of her help while cleaning stalls in the main barn… I’m so grateful that I got to know her and spend the time with her that I did.” – Andrea Nassar, Educational Programming Manager

“When I first visited the sanctuary a couple years ago, Michael was one of the reasons I left saying ‘I want to work here’ and I will always be grateful to her for that.” – Stephanie Cooperman, Business & Finance Manager

“May we all live lives as full and happy as Michael’s. I don’t think I will ever see one of those big fans again and not picture her laying in front of it.” – Andrea Burritt, Adoption & Transport Coordinator

“During my last visit at CAS, someone mentioned that Michael the Turkey was located in the outside pen near the pond. They placed her there because she had ‘gone rogue.’ A search party located her not far away, but they felt it better to keep her safe for the rest of the day. When I walked down to say hello to Michael, she was not pleased. I had to chuckle because her body language was exactly as described. Michael was a charming character and a determined wanderer at heart. That resonated with me to my very core.” – Dee Bolemon, Sponsor of Michael & a Sanctuary Supporter

Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Ideas:

Thanksgiving Main Dish Recipes

Butternut Harvest Roll

Thanksgiving Sides & Desserts

Our Favorite Pre-Made Vegan Entrees



Love Spoken Here


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