When a special United Airlines flight dubbed "Turkey One" departs San Francisco International Airport this morning, it will be carrying two lucky fowl from Foster Farms in Modesto. You could say these birds, Tom One and Tom Two, have won the life lottery after they were selected to receive the traditional Thanksgiving presidential pardon that allows them to skip the serving platter and instead live out their lives on a farm in Virginia.
According to the Modesto Bee, when Foster Farms received word they would be providing the turkeys for the annual event, they started grooming select birds for the position. They chose Tom One and Tom Two last week from a flock of about 20 candidates. A Foster Farms official told the newspaper that the birds are trained to be calm and easily handled during a 17-week process. Birds have to weigh 40 pounds and be very socialized to make the cut that saves them from carving. President Barack Obama is slated to give the pardon to Tom One in a ceremony on Wednesday. According to the Bee, if Tom One is acting feisty that day, Tom Two will be tapped for the photo op. After the festivities, both birds will be sent to Turkey Hill Farm in Morven Park, Virginia, where they can quietly gobble out their natural lives.
· Foster Farms selects this year's presidential turkey [Modesto Bee]