Community Pushes to Save Beloved Turkey Set to Be Euthanized After Attacks Cause Park Closure
The Oakland Morcom Rose Garden was forced to close after a resident turkey named Gerald began attacking parkgoers
Community members in Oakland, California are pushing to save Gerald the turkey after a permit was secured to euthanize the animal.
In recent weeks, Gerald has begun attacking park goers in the Oakland Morcom Rose Garden, forcing the park to close down following several complaints to Oakland Animal Services about the fowl's behavior.
However, when people heard that the California Department of Fish & Wildlife would "lethally remove" the turkey on June 22 to solve the problem, a petition was formed to save him.
"As you may have heard, Gerald began attacking visitors over recent months, and the situation has become untenable," the text in the petition reads. "The attacks coincided with mating season, the presence of new chicks, and drastically increased human (and dog) activity in the park due to shelter-in-place. These are all factors which may have led him to feel protective and under threat."
The petition, which has secured more than 5,000 signatures in three days, then calls for Gerald to be relocated instead of killed.
"The debates over his fate reveal bigger questions about how we support the needs of human and non-human beings," it says. "We believe that killing someone is not a valid way to solve human-wildlife conflicts."
The petition continues: "Unfortunately, many have run out of patience with the temporary closure of the park, and a viable way to create safe co-existence for everyone has not yet been found. As a result, relocation seems the only option at this point. The CA Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) has refused requests for relocation. We are hoping that — with your help — they will reverse their decision and give Gerald a chance at life in a new environment, where we hope he can thrive."
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Gerald has been a regular fixture in the Grand Lake neighborhood, ABC 7 reported Friday, and before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sent people indoors, he was often seen walking peacefully around residents. Gerald even has a habit of lining up for school pickup alongside students' parents.
But recently, the turkey has taken to aggressively attacking people that he encounters. Plaintiffs to animal services called Gerald "relentless" and compared him to the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, according to emails obtained by ABC 7.
The petition, which includes a letter to CDFW, notes that Oakland Animal Services has worked to de-escalate the situation, calling for parkgoers to stop feeding Gerald and temporarily closing the park, but that people in the community have ignored these measures.
"Nevertheless, many have disregarded the closure and incidents have continued, including people taunting Gerald and attempting to stave him off with counter-attacks. This is not an environment for reducing stress," it says, adding that the planned lethal removal of Gerald "has caused much sadness and distress to members of the community."