Pulling off the poultry version of "The Great Escape," two turkeys very much alive found freedom in Key Largo a few days before Thanksgiving.
The pair of fully grown gobblers was spotted darting into the southbound lanes of U.S. 1, not far from Key Largo School, in the middle of the day.
"We've gotten calls about goats and even a kangaroo," said Marsha Garrettson, manager of the Key Largo Animal Shelter for nearly two decades. "These are the first turkeys."
Animal Control Officer Mike Coleman and a volunteer bystander staged a turkey roundup to take the birds into protective custody.
How the turkeys turned up on Key Largo is unknown. But it doesn't stretch the imagination to assume they were someone's notion of a farm-fresh Thanksgiving dinner.
If so, the turkeys had other plans. "Maybe they escaped," Garrettson said. "Happily escaped."
As founder of the local Humane Animal Care Coalition and a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Garrettson did not try to find the owner.
"Live turkeys are considered livestock," she said. "And it's basically illegal to have livestock in Monroe County."
The big birds, one black and one brown, appear to be fast friends. "They follow each other around," Garrettson said. "They've bonded."
Concerned that the plump birds might prove a tempting target around this holiday time, the turkeys were held overnight inside under lock and key rather than an outdoor cage.
The turkeys were delivered to a petting zoo in Broward County. Instead of being the main course on Thanksgiving, they'll live out their lives as farm-life ambassadors to schools and children's events.