Thanksgiving turkeys pardoned by Obama 'have all died'
Only one of the eight Thanksgiving turkeys pardoned so far by President Barack Obama lived to see another Thanksgiving
Each Thanksgiving at the White House the US president publicly pardons two turkeys that were destined for dinner tables and sends them into a luxurious retirement.
But it has emerged that all eight of the birds so far pardoned by President Barack Obama have already died, and only one of them lived to see a second Thanksgiving.
The first two birds spared by Mr Obama in 2009 were sent to live at Disneyland and the following six, including last year's pair named Cobbler and Gobbler, went to the former home of George Washington at Mount Vernon.
But because the birds, some of them weighting up to 45 pounds, had been bred large for eating they endured health problems and did not last long despite their five star surroundings.
Mr Obama is set to pardon two more Thanksgiving turkeys this week. At the pardoning of Cobbler and Gobbler last year, attended by his daughters Sasha and Malia in the White House Rose Garden, he said: “From here these two lucky birds will be swept up in a whirlwind of fame and fortune that will ultimately lead them to Mount Vernon, where they will spend their twilight years in the storied home of George Washington.”
Speaking weeks after his re-election Mr Obama added: "They say life is all about second chances, and this November I couldn't agree more."
The US president has long been presented with a prized bird by the turkey industry at Thanksgiving.
In 1963, four days before his assassination, President John F Kennedy spared his turkey and sent it back to the farm. However, the tradition of bestowing an official presidential pardon began later with President George H W Bush.
The longest lived of Mr Obama's pardoned turkeys was Liberty, a 45 pound bird who went to the White House in 2011, and survived until the age of two before succumbing to heart failure.
Two turkeys set to be pardoned this week come from Minnesota and have been carefully sleeted from 80 candidates by the National Turkey Federation as the best able to deal with the glare of publicity at the ceremony.
In an effort to train them to deal calmly with the attention the birds have had a radio played to them for months. According to their owner they have been listening to Vivaldi for most of the summer.