In Yellville, Arkansas, there is an old tradition known as the "Turkey Trot." Now, on its name, it sounds like it might be a 5K fun run to raise money for charity. Well, it's not. No, at this event, the people don't run anywhere and neither do the turkeys. Instead, the turkeys are dropped from an airplane flying 500 feet above. The people on the ground then trap and capture the turkeys. At least, they trap and capture the turkeys that don't explode on impact, as many do. They get to keep what they catch and most eat the turkeys for Thanksgiving. So, the turkey's last day on earth includes a harrowing fall from 500 feet, desperately trying to use his wings that aren't meant for flying to glide safely into the arms of a hungry Arkansasan.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
Those are immortal words of WKRP In Cincinnati's station manager, Arthur Carlson, after a promotion involving dropping turkeys from helicopters goes very, very wrong. It turns out, the ill-conceived idea of dropping turkeys from up high isn't restricted to the realm of ancient TV sitcoms.
Who is allowing this "festival" to happen, you might ask? Everyone, it appears. Animal rights groups have fought it. Social media users too. A weekly newspaper in Little Rock has denounced it. Even Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee has gotten involved. But none of that has stopped it. Local law enforcement officials have said they won't pursue any animal cruelty charges. This year, groups appealed to the Federal Aviation Association, the folks in Washington that regulate air travel. Their response? Not their problem. "FAA regulations do not specifically prohibit dropping live animals from aircraft, possibly because the authors of the regulation never anticipated that an explicit prohibition would be necessary," a spokesman for the FAA told the Huffington Post. They did say that they didn't endorse it, but tell that to the terrified tumbling turkeys. It's the opposite of the President pardoning a turkey - it's a death sentence.
When they are dropped, some turkeys figure it out and spread their wings and glide to a safe landing, but some just start wildly flapping and drop like a rock. Those don't even make it to the Thanksgiving table just end up a spot of blood and guts on the ground.
One day, if we aren't careful, the turkeys will mount a counter-attack and then we'll all be in trouble.
Bonus: If you've never seen the episode of WKRP In Cincinnati that was referenced above, check it out, it's one of the funniest moments in TV history.
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