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Popular Missouri Turkey survives another Thanksgiving

A 25-pound turkey near West Plains may be the luckiest bird in Missouri this Thanksgiving.

Blissfully unaware of a turkey’s traditional Thanksgiving contribution, Peepers isn’t afraid of human interaction. The sizable fowl has become a familiar sight on Brook Holiway’s six-acre property , which also is home to her salon, Beauty and the Beard.

Clients have come to expect a greeting from the turkey when they pull up in their vehicles or to see it saunter through the door for a visit during a hair appointment. For Peepers — a name given to the heritage bronze turkey because of its propensity to snoop on every human in its path — it seems as natural as a cat lounging on a window sill. For Holiway’s clients, it often warrants a picture with the salon’s feathered friend.

Male turkeys can be aggressive and territorial, but the double-bearded Peepers seems more interested in captivating an audience. “He puts on quite a show,” said Jeanne Phay, one of Holiway’s clients. “He puffs up, struts around for a few feet and comes back. He’s amazing.”

If Peepers acts like a family dog, it’s because he is treated like one. His 12-foot-by-8-foot coop has a heater and solar lights and is decorated with an assortment of old license plates.

An estimated 46 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving, according to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. But Peepers won’t be one of them. “We always get asked, ‘When are you going to eat him or mount him?'” Holiway said. “We never will. He’s our buddy.”

Holiway; her boyfriend. Corey Sullivan, and their children often have taken in misfit animals. In addition to Peepers, they have adopted a deaf puppy that the family since has taught sign language, along with a humpbacked donkey that once was scheduled for slaughter. There are dozens of animals on the property. Holiway purchased Peepers two years ago at a local swap meet with the intent to breed more. His mate, a hen they bought earlier, was later eaten by wolves.

“We’re terrible farmers, but great hobbyists,” she said.

–Dwight Widaman

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