SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Every year, more than 45 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S.
One farm sanctuary is hoping more people will save a turkey instead of eating one this holiday.
What You Need To Know
- Every year, more than 45 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S.
- For Thanksgiving this year, you can become a guardian for a turkey with the help of The Gentle Barn
- If you're local, you can visit The Gentle Barn for a turkey cuddle
- For more information, head to The Gentle Barn's website
Ellie Laks, founder of The Gentle Barn, always dreamed of owning a farm. She shares a special bond with the dozens of animals in her care, knowing all their names and specific traits.
Laks' life's mission is to save animals from slaughter or other harmful situations, heal them and then heal people. She studied special education and psychology and found that all kinds of animals could offer emotional support, such as cows.
"There’s something about feeling their breathing and connecting to their heart beat and putting our faces on them," she said. "I don’t know, it’s just incredible."
The Gentle Barn actually offers tours for cow hugs.
"You put your face on them and close your eyes and breathe in and out a couple times," said Laks.
You can also play with the pigs and cuddle turkeys. For Thanksgiving this year, you can become a guardian for a turkey. A one-time donation of $35 will fund care of the birds at The Gentle Barn, and in return, you will get a photo certificate to put on your table in place of the traditional turkey.
Even more special, if you are local you can visit The Gentle Barn for a turkey cuddle. One turkey named Sun was rescued from Thanksgiving when she was very young and was nervous at first. But soon, Laks realized Sun loved to be held, training Laks to do this.
"She just kept following me and chirping at me and following me and chirping at me, so finally I started worrying that she was trying to tell me something or that something was wrong. So I put down my rake and sat down on the ground and said, ‘What is it, girl? Are you trying to tell me something?’ And she climbed in my lap and fell asleep. We have been cuddling turkeys ever since."
Laks feels her mission is to save animals by showing how smart, beautiful and healing they are. She hopes the community will do their part to end animal suffering by eating less meat and more plants, whether that is a slow process by one less meat meal or just going "cold turkey," as she says.
“So this year, because there are so many vegan options and because being plant based is so easy, become a turkey guardian instead. Try something new,” Laks said.
Maybe there will be one less turkey on the Thanksgiving table this year.
For more information, head to The Gentle Barn's website.