Animal lovers have hit out at wildlife bosses’ decision to shoot a celebrity turkey dead and give him to a hungry family to eat. The wild bird, called Penny, was slaughtered in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Wednesday – and subsequently donated to a needy family in the area.
A memorial shrine has since been erected to Penny at a local gas station he liked to visit, complete with flowers and candles. He was taken out after allegedly acting aggressively towards a local trying to pump gas.
Local resident Desiree Fritz was among those outraged by news of Penny’s death, writing on Facebook: ‘WHAT??…They could’ve at least brought him somewhere and safely released him..this was totally unnecessary!
‘People saying it got “aggressive”… just cause it walked up to people didn’t mean it got “aggressive”… I never seen it bite anyone including myself. He was a people turkey and brought everyone joy.’
Buddy Michaelson, who erected the shrine, added: ‘(Penny) just kind of made our whole year — everything’s been such a downer the whole year.
‘Driving past Penny was always hilarious. It just kind of brought humor to this year, something to look forward to for a lot of people.’
And Nancy Webb, who manages a dry cleaning store in Bloomington said: ‘It’s surprising because Penny was kind of a local celebrity, he made everyone smile.
‘The only time he caused an issue was when he would block my front door, but my customers would just call me from outside … and it was fine. It really wasn’t an issue. It was more comical than anything.’
Penny was so popular among locals many even donned ‘Penny for President’ badges in the run up to this year’s presidential election. But his popularity appears to have been the cause of his undoing, after locals ignored repeated warnings not to feed him.
Minnesota Fish and Wildlife Officials said that this had led to the bird becoming too tame, and acting aggressively towards people.
The final straw came when Penny squared up to a driver at the BP station where his memorial now stands. An armed Minnesota Department of Natural resources officer was dispatched to deal with Penny and followed him to a quiet football field, before pulling the trigger.
Penny was gunned down at a football field by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officer, and is now set to make a Thanksgiving feast.
Bloomington Police Chief Mike Hartley told Bring Me The News Minnesota: ‘From all my neighbors and Bloomingtonites, I know about their love of the turkey.
‘But I also know, from a public safety standpoint, when you are pumping gas, you should not have to be accosted by a wild animal.’
Hartley stressed that his department had not been behind the decision to kill Penny, and urged locals not to feed other wild turkeys in a bit to prevent future shootings.
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