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After a dramatic Ontario roadside rescue, this turkey is living a pampered life

A lone turkey standing on a grassy lawn during sunrise looks out in the distance, pensively.
It’s a longstanding tradition for the U.S. president to pardon a turkey at Thanksgiving each year, but this week a turkey in southwestern Ontario pardoned itself. The bird was injured, then rescued from a Stratford Road, in a story a police inspector says could make for a great children’s storybook. (Submitted by Janita Fowler)

An injured turkey recently found blocking traffic on a Stratford, Ont., road is one lucky bird — with a backstory that police say could even make for a great children’s book.

And if how the fortunate fowl survived isn’t enough of a story to gobble up, it was adopted by someone with a name that could easily be part of the tale.   

“This turkey is so lucky. It’s not going to be somebody’s dinner plate,” said Janita Fowler, who adopted the bird she’s named GiGi (short for Gobble Gobble) within 24 hours of hearing about its road rescue Monday.

We’re assuming that a livestock truck would have been travelling, and the turkey jumped to save its life.– Insp. Mark Taylor, Straford Police Service

Stratford police are “not 100 per cent sure” how the turkey got on the road, said Insp. Mark Taylor. But it’s believed it may have fallen  — possibly even jumped?  — from a livestock truck.

“We can’t identify how else the turkey arrived on scene, so we’re assuming that a livestock truck would have been travelling, and the turkey jumped to save its life,” said Insp. Mark Taylor with Stratford Police Service.

He said the stretch of road turns into a highway that livestock trucks frequently travel.

A second chance for GiGi

Regardless, Fowler, the owner of a pet-sitting business in the southwestern Ontario city, said while what happened to the bird was likely “not pleasant,” GiGi has been given a second chance. 

A white turkey on green grass, with a road behind them.
‘She looked so scared,’ says Raven Phelan, who spotted the turkey at Erie Street and Lorne Avenue West in Stratford. (Submitted by Raven Phelan)

On Monday morning, as the turkey tale goes, Stratford police received numerous calls that the injured fowl was blocking traffic. 

“It’s four lanes. It’s very busy that time of morning,” said Taylor. “When we arrived to see this large, white turkey on the road, our officers were surprised. 

“You could see where it had hit the road and bounced a couple times,” said Const. Rachelle Willows, who moved it to a grassy boulevard. “We assisted where we could and saved the turkey’s life,” Taylor said. 

Raven Phelan was among people who saw the turkey at Erie Street and Lorne Avenue West, and said, “She looked so scared.” 

A white turkey in a small cage, with what appears to be bedroom sheets on top of it.
The turkey is shown in transit from the Stratford Humane Society to its new life on the farm of its new owner. (Janita Fowler)

The bird was brought to the Stratford-Perth Humane Society. 

“It had a feather that filled with blood and broke off — otherwise minor scrapes and no injuries,” said Calla James, director of Community Engagement & Outreach. Their in-house veterinarian assessed the turkey after receiving a call from police.

Fowler noted: “Thankfully, there were no broken bones or too serious of traumas. 

“I just offered that if the vet deemed that the turkey had a chance of survival, that I’d be happy to offer it sort of a forever home, so it wouldn’t have to go back to the farm or go to the slaughterhouse and meet its demise.”

The turkey is still “fairly traumatized and exhausted from the whole ordeal,” said Fowler, who regularly cleans its wounds and expects the bird to fully recover. 

Fowler had to find a creative way to help GiGi get back on its feet. After sitting in a makeshift sling for a few hours, the turkey is now walking unsupported. 

A hand with a bracelet is holding a small bowl of water. A turkey with white feathers and a red head is hovering over it.
Janita Fowler took this photo shortly after picking up GiGi from the Stratford Humane Society, transporting the turkey by dog crate. (Submitted by Janita Fowler)

“I just fashioned it up out of some garden hose, and some PVC piping and a couple pillow cases,” she said of the tiny hammock. 

“I had to do a bit of therapy work on its legs. It slowly stretched its legs out, got its muscles stretched and was able to stand on its own.”

No bird like a happy bird

Taylor said police attempted to find out who the turkey belongs to, but it had no markings indicating where it was from or where it was heading. 

A white turkey with a red head standing on green grass.
The injury left the turkey with a feather that filled with blood and broke off, but otherwise had minor scrapes and no injuries (Janita Fowler)

When asked if it fell or jumped, he replied, “I guess we’ll never really know. The story is better if the turkey actually did make the lifesaving jump. It would make for a great children’s storybook.” 

The turkey is now “feeling the grass under its feet,” said Fowler, adding the bird enjoys being outdoors. 

GiGi will live out the rest of her days on Fowler’s farm with other rescue animals, including ducks and chickens. 

“She will have lots of company, and be loved and pampered.” 

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