US President George W. Bush (C) stands with the Hill family who raised "Pumpkin", the National Thanksgiving Turkey after Bush officially pardoned the bird in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. Bush Wednesday pardoned his last national Thanksgiving turkey, which will now fly first-class to Disneyland in California instead of ending up on a dinner table.
With nostalgic words, US President George W. Bush Wednesday pardoned his last national Thanksgiving turkey, which will now fly first-class to Disneyland in California instead of ending up on a dinner table.
With the necessary gravity and gobbling accompanying the ceremony, Bush pardoned the bird, dubbed Pumpkin and a backup bird, Pecan, who was nowhere to be seen, "in an undisclosed location," Bush joked.
"In recent weeks, I've talked a lot about sprinting to the finish. Yet I've assured these turkeys they will not be trotting to their finish," Bush said on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, his last before his term ends in January.
"That's because in keeping with a longstanding tradition, Pumpkin and Pecan are hereby granted a full and unconditional presidential pardon."
Both birds will fly to Disneyland, where Pumpkin is set to be the honorary marshal of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
"Together, these birds will gobble the rest of their days in 'The Happiest Place on Earth.' I just hope they stay humble there," Bush added to laughter from the crowd.
But in a letter to Bush on Tuesday, the animal rights group PETA called on the president to send the turkeys to an animal sanctuary instead.
"You might be a lame duck, but you still have the power to help lame turkeys, who are made that way by the cruelty of the meat industry," PETA president Ingrid Newkirk wrote in the letter.
Bush expressed his thanks to American troops and his family and gave a shout out to the newest addition to the Bush family, Henry Hager, Jenna's husband.
"We are looking forward to having another place at our Thanksgiving table with a son-in-law."