Arriving at work early one spring morning in 2018, staff members at our California shelter were greeted by the sight of 24 baby turkeys. Left anonymously in the night, Anya and her friends were dirty, sick, and in desperate need of care. The shorn beaks of these young “poults” told us that they came from a factory farm. Like so many others we’ve welcomed, these young birds had suffered “debeaking,” a procedure in which the sensitive, nerve-filled tip of the beak is amputated with a hot blade or infrared. Common among industrial turkey producers, who raise turkeys by the thousands in intensely crowded warehouses, this mutilation is intended to discourage fighting among the stressed and frustrated birds.
Disease and injuries are rampant at factory farms, and individualized care is unheard of. Such conditions could easily have spelled a very early death for Anya and the others — many arrived too weak even to stand. Here, these babies received the around-the-clock care they needed to pull through, and their transformation was astounding. Anya and her friends grew into an unstoppable flock of sanctuary superstars, chasing down the spotlight and leaving a trail of delighted.
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