Pardoned turkeys find new home at Virginia Tech

"Gobblers Rest" at Virginia Tech will be home of this year's presidential-pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

November 22, 2016

2 Min Read
Pardoned turkeys find new home at Virginia Tech

On Nov. 23, President Barack Obama pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. The President celebrated the 69th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, reflected upon the time-honored traditions of Thanksgiving and wished American families a safe and healthy holiday. The 2016 National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate – Tator and Tot - were hatched and raised in Iowa.

After the pardoning, the turkeys will be on display for visitors at their permanent home at Virginia Tech’s newly built “Gobblers Rest” exhibit where they will be cared for by students and veterinarians in the university’s Poultry Science Department.  


In the past, the birds have moved to a farm or historical site, but this is the first time they will live at a university. Gobblers Rest is a newly built enclosure located inside the Livestock Judging Pavilion on Plantation Road.

“Considering how Virginia Tech is not only home to the HokieBird but it is also where the modern turkey industry has its roots, it is apt that the pardoned turkeys will call Blacksburg home,” said Rami Dalloul, a poultry immunologist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences.

Dalloul will chaperone the birds as they go through a series of official ceremonies during the week and will bring them back to Blacksburg after the White House event. Dalloul is a world-renowned poultry immunologist who, a few years ago, sequenced the turkey genome, which opened the door to new levels of understanding of the birds as well as genetics.

You can follow along on social media using #TurkeyPardon2016 to go behind the scenes at the White House ceremony and follow the turkeys on their journey.

The public can visit the turkeys from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 25-26 at the Livestock Judging Pavilion, 445 Plantation Rd., Blacksburg, Va.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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