What a Turkey Saved From Slaughter Teaches Us About Kindness

The Remarkable Rescue Story of Marlene

Marlene at Love Always Sanctuary

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Over 250 million turkeys are slaughtered for human consumption in the U.S. throughout the year. Killed at barely four months old and not protected by the Humane Slaughter Act, a turkey will be subjected to unchecked mistreatment on farms and in slaughterhouses during their short life. They are genetically altered to grow to 30 lbs by just 15 weeks of age, with deformities and severe health problems commonplace.

Such was one turkey’s existence at the Los Angeles-area slaughterhouse LA Fresh Poultry when a dozen animal rights activists gathered there on the morning before Thanksgiving three years ago. The protest was part of an ongoing campaign to shut down the live kill market, a facility where customers can pick out live animals to be killed on the spot. After several hours of negotiations, the owners offered the protestors two chickens in exchange for leaving—protests, after all, are bad for business. “But we refused unless they also gave us a turkey, and finally, they agreed,” recalls Marlene Blanco, who is a caregiver at Love Always Sanctuary. “Marlene stopped screaming as soon as she was in my arms; that’s how I knew she was aware that she was safe.”

Animal rights activist Marlene Blanco with her namesake turkey, who she rescued a from a live kill market in Los Angeles

“Bringing awareness to animal rights can be a stepping stone to being aware of other social justice issues.”

Blanco describes going through a mix of emotions—from hopefulness and happiness that she was free, but also sadness for not being able to rescue more animals from the slaughterhouse. “I was thinking that she is going to be a great example of how animal liberation is possible when we come together,” she says. “Bringing awareness to animal rights can be a stepping stone to being aware of other social justice issues. For example, working at slaughterhouses is traumatic for both the workers and the individuals that are being killed there, increasing PTSD and domestic violence in the Hispanic community.”

Since that fateful day, Marlene has recovered wonderfully and spends her days hanging out with her chicken and duck friends at the sanctuary. She loves dust bathing and following people around until she gets a hug. “The resilience animals show is amazing,” says Blanco.