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Presidential turkey pardoning ceremony: Joe Biden to pardon turkey, alternate raised in North Carolina

On Nov. 21, President Joe Biden is set to save a turkey and its alternate, both raised in Monroe, North Carolina.

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Mark Bergin
, WRAL senior multiplatform producer

The White House announced Tuesday that President Joe Biden will pardon a Thanksgiving turkey from North Carolina.

On Nov. 21, Biden will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation on the South Lawn of the White House. He is set to save a turkey and its alternate, both raised at Circle S Ranch in Monroe, North Carolina.

White House leaders did not specify which farm they’re coming from, the name of the turkey Biden will pardon or its alternate.

On Tuesday, North Carolina State University announced its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) will be the home of the official National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate following next week's ceremony. It marks the first time the university has served as the home of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

The turkeys will reside in special private quarters at North Carolina State University’s Lake Wheeler Road facilities under the expert care of university poultry specialists and students.

Last year, Biden pardoned Indiana-raised turkeys named Peanut Butter and Jelly at his first presidential turkey pardon. Following the ceremony, they retired to their home state at Purdue University's Animal Sciences Education and Research Farm.

“NC State is home to some of the world’s top poultry and animal agriculture experts and facilities,” CALS Interim Dean John Dole said in a news release. “We deliver excellence in teaching, research and extension to meet the industry’s needs and grow our state. The birds couldn’t be in better hands.”

Peter Ferket, interim head of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science in CALS, will work alongside Jesse Grimes, NC State Extension turkey specialist, and others to care for the birds.

“We’re honored and excited for the opportunity to care for the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his ‘wingman,’” Ferket said. “We’ve prepared a first-class retirement home for our fine-feathered friends to live out their days in fame and comfort.“

In addition to 100-square-foot, climate-controlled pens for both birds, CALS poultry experts are working on a biosecure mobile coop. Upon completion, it will make it possible to transport the turkeys to events like the North Carolina State Fair and CALS Farm Animal Days for public viewing and educational outreach.

Former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama pardoned turkeys raised in North Carolina during their administrations.

In 2019, Trump pardoned a turkey named Butter and the alternate was named Bread from Clinton, North Carolina.
In 2009, Obama pardoned a turkey named Courage and the alternate was named Carolina from Princeton, North Carolina.


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