WASHINGTON – Two turkeys are thankful that they aren't being featured on a Thanksgiving menu this holiday.
President Bush on Wednesday pardoned the two white-feathered birds — Flyer and Fryer — at a White House ceremony for the 59th anniversary of the National Turkey Pardon.
"No one's told him about the pardon I'm about to give him," Bush said of Flyer, who is joined by an understudy in case he can't perform his ceremonial role.
"Flyer's probably wondering where he's going to wind up tomorrow. He's probably thinking he's going to end up on somebody's table," Bush said. "I'm happy to report that he and Fryer both have many tomorrows ahead of them."
The turkey's concern is not unfounded apparently. Barney, the president's Scottish terrier, chased Flyer around the White House Rose Garden before the announcement. The white-feathered bird was visibly nervous at the ceremony.
Bush said the Missouri-bred turkeys will be sent to Disneyland in California to serve as honorary grand marshals in a Thanksgiving Day Parade, and then will live out their days.
But animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has urged Bush to relocate the birds after their Disney trip to the Washington, D.C.-area Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, which the group says is an accredited facility where the turkeys "would receive the special care that they need to survive for more than a few months after leaving the White House."
Traditionally, previously-pardoned turkeys have ended up at Frying Pan Park in Fairfax, Va., which PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said "is a working farm where the birds were neglected and left in a small enclosure without any mental stimulation."
At Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Flyer and Fryer "will get the exercise and socialization that they need to live longer, happier lives," PETA argued.
"President Bush should give these turkeys something that they can truly be thankful for-retirement at a peaceful sanctuary," Newkirk said. "Although life at Disney sounds fun, last year's birds — Yams and Marshmallow — both died soon after they arrived at Disney. The least that we can do for turkeys who have been given a presidential pardon is to send them to the best possible retirement home."
Bush and first lady Laura Bush traveled to Camp David on Wednesday to spend the holiday with family after an eight-day trip to Asia. They will travel again next week on an international trip to the Baltics and the Middle East.
The first family's menu for Thanksgiving includes free-range roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, zucchini gratin, whipped maple sweet potatoes, basil chive red potato mash and pumpkin pie.