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Obama pardons turkey: Photos of the Thanksgiving guest of honor
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Obama pardoned two lucky Turkeys, Wednesday, saving them from becoming Thanksgiving centerpieces. Others will be less lucky. An estimated 46 million turkeys are cooked and eaten during Thanksgiving meals in the United States.

The origins of the tradition are suprisingly recent. Formalized pardons began in 1989 under George H.W. Bush (more on the history). Between 2005 and 2009, the pardoned turkeys ended up on Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch, but last year, Obama's turkey retired to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate in Viriginia. But wherever they end up, at least it's not on the dinner table.

Turkey pardon
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U.S. President Barack Obama is flanked by his daughters Sasha (C), Malia (2nd-R), and National Turkey Federation Chairman Richard Huisinga (L) as he pardons 'Liberty', a 19-week old, 45-pound turkey at the North Portico of the White House. Nov. 23, 2011.

(Mark Wilson - AFP/Getty Images)
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A turkey gets some exercise on a rooftop deck at the W Hotel in Washington, DC, one day before being pardoned by US President Barack Obama at the White House. Nov. 23, 2010.

(Saul Loeb - AFP/Getty Images)
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A box of donated turkeys waits to be distributed at the Alameda Food Bank Nov. 24, 2009 in Alameda, California.

(Justin Sullivan - AFP/Getty Images)
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US President Barack Obama waves his hand as he pardons a turkey named Courage during the annual turkey pardoning ceremony for Thanksgiving on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, DC. Nov. 25, 2009.

(Saul Loeb - AFP/Getty Images)
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A turkey stands in a barn at the Willie Bird Turkey Farm in Sonoma, California. Nov. 22, 2010. An estimated forty six million turkeys are cooked and eaten during Thanksgiving meals in the United States.

(Justin Sullivan - AFP/Getty Images)
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U.S. President George W. Bush pardons a turkey named Pumpkin during the annual White House Turkey Presidential Pardon presentation in the Rose Garden at the White House. Nov. 26, 2008.

(Mark Wilson - AFP/Getty Images)
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Joshua Korder of Winona, MN with Blackfoot Company 1st Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment has Thanksgiving dinner while standing watch in a guard tower in Matakhan, Afghanistan. Nov. 26, 2009. The soldiers of Blackfoot were served pre-packaged turkey breasts, cranberries, potatoes, stuffing and pie.

(Scott Olson - AFP/Getty Images)
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Thousands of turkeys stand in a feed house at the Willie Bird Turkey Farm in Sonoma, California. Nov. 19, 2007.

(Justin Sullivan - AFP/Getty Images)
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US President George W. Bush (R) meets "Flyer", the turkey and handler Lynn Nutt (L), after announcing the official Thanksgiving pardon for the bird in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. Nov. 22 2006.

(Tim Sloan - AFP/Getty Images)
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The Thanksgiving Turkey makes its way during the 81st annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Nov. 22, 2007.

(Hiroko Masuike - AFP/Getty Images)
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A group of turkeys peek out of a door in a barn at the Willie Bird Turkey Farm in Sonoma, California. Nov. 22, 2010.

(Justin Sullivan - AFP/Getty Images)
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Hurricane Katrina evacuee Kathy Curry of New Orleans put a turkey breast into a slow cooker as she prepares her Thanksgiving dinner in the bathroom of her hotel room at a Days Inn in Camp Springs, Maryland. Nov. 23, 2005.

(Alex Wong - AFP/Getty Images)
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Mike Damian pulls his Thanksgiving day turkey out of the frier before the start of an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders in Arlington, Texas. Nov. 26, 2009.

(Jessica Rinaldi - Reuters)
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A turkey looks around its enclosure at the Seven Acres Farm in North Reading, Massachusetts. Nov, 25, 2009.

(Brian Snyder - AFP/Getty Images)
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Two-year-old Trey Izizarry of Reston, Virginia, looks into the crates that hold "Flower" and "May," tow turkeys that will fly first class to Orlando on a United Airlines flight at Dulles International Airport in Fairfax, Virginia. Nov. 20, 2007.

(Chip Somodevilla - AFP/Getty Images)
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School children pet "Pumpkin", the National Thanksgiving Turkey after US President George W. Bush officially pardoned the bird during ceremonies in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. Nov. 26, 2008.

(Tim Sloan - AFP/Getty Images)
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Volunteers carve freshly roasted turkeys at St. Anthony's Dining Room in San Francisco, California. Nov. 21, 2007.

(Justin Sullivan - AFP/Getty Images)
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A turkey stands in a barn at the Willie Bird Turkey Farm in Sonoma, California. Nov. 22, 2010.

(Justin Sullivan - AFP/Getty Images)
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David Meiwes, left, and his son David, 16, move their neighbor Jerry Stover's pet turkeys after the property was struck by a tornado in Piedmont, Oklahoma. May 25, 2011.

(Brett Deering - AFP/Getty Images)
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Marshmallow, the 2005 National Thanksgiving Turkey, is carried away by James Trites, of Minnesota, who raised Marshmallow, after US President George W Bush pardoned him during an event in the White House Complex in Washington, DC. Nov. 22, 2005.

(Brendan Smialowski - AFP/Getty Images)
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21

Actors Christine DeLos Angeles and Joseph Buchanan dressed as Pilgrims chase Sixto Cuevas dressed as turkey down the street in New York during the fifth annual Thanksgiving Turkey Chase sponsored by the Abracadabra Superstore. Nov. 22, 2006.

(Timothy A. Clary - AFP/Getty Images)
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