Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be on a plate; you can sponsor one instead

Thanksgiving can be spent sponsoring turkeys and other animals living in  sanctuaries.
Thanksgiving can be spent sponsoring turkeys and other animals living in sanctuaries. Photo Credit: Urbanspace

While Thanksgiving stands as a cozy holiday for families and friends to gather around the dinner table, it also means certain peril for millions of turkeys.

Each Thanksgiving, roughly 88 percent of Americans eat turkey and about 44 million turkeys are killed, according to the National Turkey Federation.

Turkey and ham are holiday staples, but if you’re the kind who’d rather save the animals rather than eat them, there is another way to show your gratitude and cheer this holiday season.

We’ve gathered up a few rescues and sanctuaries that allow the public to sponsor, or “adopt,” animals that typically meet their doom this time of year.


Farm Sanctuary

This sanctuary has been holding sponsorships since 1986, resulting in the rescue of more than 100,000 turkeys from being slaughtered, according to its website.

For $35, you get an adoption certificate with a photo and details about the turkey or turkeys you sponsor — and visitation rights. The monthly, quarterly or yearly commitment pays for the animal’s food, shelter and veterinary care.

You can choose to take care of a turkey who lives in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (a 175-acre farm), Los Angeles (a 26-acre farm) or Orlando, California (a 300-acre farm).

One bird up for adoption is Madeline, who was debeaked in a factory farm. Now she sits in laps and loves attention, the site says.

You can also choose to adopt cows, pigs, chickens, ducks and more — all of which live on the sanctuary’s farms.

Farm Sanctuary rescues, rehabilitates and cares for hundreds of animals that have been saved from stockyards, factory farms and slaughterhouses. They’re given good food, clean living quarters and plenty of pasture to roam, the company states.

farmsanctuary.com | 607-583-2225 ext. 225


Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Turkeys rescued by the Catskill Animal Sanctuary are in need of “parents” too.

Not only can you rescue a turkey but it’s possible to provide for a pig, goat, cow and horse, ranging in price from $15 to $100 a month.

Adopters will receive a yearlong family membership to the sanctuary, based in Saugerties, N.Y., new photos of the animal throughout the year, free weekend tours from April to October, 30-minute visits with the sponsored animal and more.

Michael, a female turkey, was found wandering alone but was rescued by Catskill Animal Sanctuary in 2015. The farm staffers originally thought Michael was a boy, but when she got older they learned different. Michael knows her name and enjoys listening to music and clucking at Howard, another female turkey, the website says.

The 148-acre refuge takes care of 11 species of farmed animals that were taken from situations of cruelty, abandonment and neglect. Since 2001, the sanctuary has rescued more than 4,000 animals and anywhere from 250 to 350 animals are there at any given time, according to the website.

casanctuary.org | 845-336-8447


Tristate Bird Rescue and Research

This bird-centric sanctuary and research facility in Delaware also has turkeys in need, but since it’s a hospital, visitation is not possible.

Despite this, sponsors can know they’re helping their animals get the best care, according to its website.

Wild turkeys, rather than ones in captivity, come to the hospital injured and need support to return to their lives. For this reason, the sanctuary takes steps to prevent orphaned patients from becoming accustomed to people.

Those who symbolically adopt one will get a certificate of adoption and lots of information about their animal.

The rescue started up in 1976 following an oil spill in the Delaware River that put Canada geese in danger. Today, it’s still known as a leader in oil spill response and has several biologists, veterinarians and other experts who help care for rescued birds.

tristatebird.org | 302-737-9543


Woodstock Farm Sanctuary

This refuge in High Falls, N.Y., specializes in taking in animals that are commonly exploited, abused and killed in animal agriculture, like Antoinette the turkey. She was found outside of a live-kill market in the city. Now she lives in the sanctuary’s medical building and someday will join the rest of the rescue’s flock, the website states.

Pigs like Lexi, who escaped a farm in New Jersey that raises animals for farm-to-table restaurants, are also available for sponsorship along with horses, chickens, goats, cats and even a llama named Dolly.

Prospective sponsors can pay a one-time adoption fee of $150 or pay $25 monthly to care for an animal’s food, shelter and care. With that, you get a certificate, a photo of the animal and its story.

woodstocksanctuary.org | 845-247-5700