November 27, 2019
By Erica Rymer, Events and Marketing Coordinator
Ah, November. A month of gratitude, family, great food and autumn weather (which, let’s be honest, is usually snow). However, there is one other thing that really differentiates November from any other month, and that is turkey.
While many families celebrate Thanksgiving with a cooked bird, there are others who would prefer to save turkeys from their fate. That is why in 1986, Farm Sanctuary designated November as Adopt a Turkey Month! The event encouraged individuals to sponsor and care for rescue turkeys in their facility. Though your Akron Zoo has not participated directly with this event, we did adopt a rescue turkey of our own in 2014, and we wanted to answer some guest questions about him!
The male turkey who resides in our North American Bird Aviary was found in Portage County in 2014 after sustaining severe injuries at the hands of a hunter. A member of the public noticed that he appeared to have a broken right leg and decided to bring him to Hiram College’s Bird Rehabilitation Center. It was determined that his injuries required surgery, and on November 26, 2014 he was moved to the Akron Zoo for specialized treatment.
“During his exam and surgery it was discovered he had a fractured right femur and multiple pellets from a gunshot embedded in his body,” said Deniele Brown, zoo registrar and hospital coordinator. “The fracture was repaired and he remained at the zoo for treatment and recovery.”
During his stay, keepers nicknamed the turkey “Winchester,” since he survived a gunshot wound. Unfortunately, his injury led to permanent lameness of the right leg and foot, and Winchester was deemed non-releasable in early 2015. On June 22, he was adopted by the Akron Zoo and he has been a permanent resident ever since.
Winchester now happily resides in our North American Bird Aviary with two female turkeys, with whom he has fathered many offspring. Some of our guests notice his limp and ask our keepers about his condition. However, despite his injury, Winchester is living life to the fullest.
“The design of our aviary allows our animals to enjoy a complex environment,” says Akron Zoo behavioral husbandry manager, Stephanie Chandler. “Their enrichment includes a variety of nesting materials, such as mammal fur, shredded paper and yarn. They also receive novel food items, such as approved bugs, and the layout of the habitat allows for permanent enrichment opportunities like interactions with other species, both inside and outside of the habitat.”
These opportunities allow Winchester to live his best life and enjoy each day in safety. Despite the circumstances through which he came to us, we are happy to have Winchester as a beloved resident of your Akron Zoo!
So no matter how you celebrate the season, happy Thanksgiving and happy Adopt a Turkey Month! We are so grateful for your continued support, and we hope you stop by soon to visit Winchester and our other residents. A portion of the proceeds from every visit helps us to make a difference in the lives of animals like Winchester. Thank you!