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The Mighty Quinn (Vegan Talk Ahead)

The Mighty Quinn

This is Quinn. He is wild-born, but something happened that left him orphaned and near-death. A wildlife rehabber noticed the sickly bird and intervened, took him to a vet and nursed him back to health.

A tame turkey in the California wilderness is not a safe turkey, especially not near a "holiday" that celebrates gratitude through the suffering and slaughter of another life.

So Quinn is now at the sanctuary.

I like Quinn a lot. He is tall and lanky, a bird made for flight and speed. He talks, urgently, inquisitively and intensely. If I had my way, I would sit and talk with Quinn all day. He does not speak like the other turkeys - not because he is wild, but because he has missed out on the passing down of songs from parents to offspring, of the sharing of trills between friends and siblings. His calls are louder, more urgent and lack the the subtleties of the other turkeys.

When I do my (poor) imitation of a mother turkey's trill, he cocks his head to the side, stretches his neck out, takes a deep breath and then screams at me. I'm not sure if he's saying "You're not my mother!" or "Your turkey talk sucks!" but he's curious and pauses always after his yell for my response. I don't know any other turkey talk except that one trill, so we bandy back and forth like this for a few minutes before he decides to see what the real turkeys are talking about.

And if there is one thing turkeys are most adept at it is talking. Their vocalizations are varied and many, their clucks, trills, whistles and gobbles all convey some sort of turkey thought, emotion or opinion (they are VERY opinionated). Sometimes it's obvious - the loud toot toot of an angry turkey hen, the full-throated warble of a courting turkey tom, the indignant yelp of a turkey hen who does not want to be petted, the soft trill of a content hen as she preens...sometimes the turkeys talk for the sake of gabbing or discuss stuff only turkeys really care about (or that humans are too inept to understand). I've seen turkey hens stand up tall, fluff their feathers and begin to wax eloquent on some very important subject. It does not matter that no one is listening for she has something to say and, darnit, she's going to say it loud and clear.

Quinn has missed out on some very important lessons. But he's interested in learning. He stares intently at the turkey hens and watch as they talk. He studies the two old tom turkeys, Leland and Tom, as they puff out proudly, gobble and croon to the girls. He even takes time to check out the chickens and see if they have anything interesting to say (according to him, they don't). And he watches the people as they come and go, clean, talk in a foreign tongue, and he's curious.

While Quinn will never know what it means to be a free turkey in a flock of his peers, he will have an opportunity to live his life in his own turkey way.

Remember the turkeys this Thanksgiving. The wild ones who are brutally shot and stolen from their friends and families. The domestic turkeys shoved callously by the thousands into transport trucks, exposed to freezing temperatures and shipped to a slaughterhouse. The millions upon millions of birds who never know the warmth of their mother's wing, the joy of preening in the sunlight or the simple pleasure of choosing whether to eat the grape or the cantaloupe. They need us now more than ever - this Thanksgiving, show your gratitude by eating a turkey-free dinner. Extend that gratitude throughout the year by switching to a vegetarian diet.

Quinn screeches and toots his thanks. Or what I'll currently label as his "thanks".

-Marji Beach, Education Coordinator


Nov. 8th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
We do not. We have two full-time animal care staff and two part-time animal care staff. Most of the medical stuff we do ourselves and we consult with vets on stuff we cannot handle.

In the future, I imagine it would be helpful to have vet techs working at the sanctuary. Of course, we've pretty much drained our coffers with the purchase of the new sanctuary that it will be awhile before we do any hiring.
Nov. 8th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
Hmm, this is pretty interesting. I'm trying to find a route for me in regards to schooling. I am getting worried because the more I learn about techs, the more uncomfortable I am with it. They don't "nurture" like I'd originally thought. It's more about slamming the animal around and getting things done. The students I have met have all been horrible and sarcastic and I am deathly afraid of a day (if I'm a vet tech) when someone comes in with a animal that can be helped, but wants to put them a sleep for lack of money . . . *sigh*
Nov. 8th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
The vet techs (or tet vechs as I just typed) at my critters' doctors office are all so wonderful and caring. Even the scary looking guy is really a gentle giant. I think there are places out there that encourage vet techs to actually care about the animals they're supposed to be helping. It's not just about shoving thermometers in uncomfortable places.

As for having to put animals down for non-medical reasons, hopefully wherever you work, if you do pursue the vet tech track, has something arranged with rescues so that healthy animals are not killed out of convenience.
Nov. 8th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
I think it depends on people/region. I've never had a vet tech that was particularly warm now that I think about it. This doesn't mean I can't be, obviously, its just hard relating to people if you what I mean.

I thought I knew what I wanted, but I am lost again. I just want to find SOMETHING where I can help with animals and work with animals. I was looking through volunteer opportunities, but it doesn't seem there is much when it comes to working with them unless its a foster program, which I unfortunately can't do with my little condo and a dog/cat already. It doesn't need to be a job, or something I need schooling for -- I just want to feel helpful and fulfilled.

Nov. 8th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, and just to add: in the mean time, I am still going after the vet tech thing . . . but I don't know. I wish I did. Bleh.
Nov. 8th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Hey, one more skill set could prove helpful in the long run. It could be a much needed step to somewhere you haven't thought of yet.
Nov. 8th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Do you own your condo and, if so, would you have room for a 2'x 2' kitten cage? A friend of mine has fostered kittens in his small apartment before. After 4 weeks, I think, they don't need to be fed with a bottle, and they're small enough to romp around in a large-ish cage. Of course letting them out (even into another small space) is the best. Flying kittens ahoy!

Aside from fostering kittens (my personal dream), there are other ways you could help animals. I don't have any grand ideas though if you want to work directly with animals. Can you volunteer at the local animal shelter? Is there a wildlife rescue in your area? Three of my friends volunteer in a wildlife rehab and they love it, sharp baby squirrel claws and all.

Have you thought about becoming a humane educator? This distance school has interested me for a long, long time. They have certificate and Masters programs. Since I'm not positive I want to teach, I decided to go for library science in the hope that I could one day work for a library that would support programs on important issues. I've been reading a lot of children's literature for school lately, and I am really inspired to start researching how animals are taught to kids. Friends or food, friends or food?

So, my dear, sorry for this rambling comment, my point is there are lots of ways you could help animals and I know how incredibly frustrating it is to not know what to do (I barely know, or have ever known) but that's how life is and it's always changing. Hang in there, you will find your path. *hugs*

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