President Barack Obama spared the lives of "Cobbler" and "Gobbler" in the Rose Garden as expected Wednesday, saying he wanted to give the turkeys a second chance at life. "They say that life is all about second chances. And this November, I could not agree more."
But chance is no longer on the side of Peace, one of the turkeys who received the presidential pardon last year. According to the Mount Vernon Estate, the historic home of George Washington where the pardoned birds go to retire, Peace recently fell ill and died.
"Our livestock department and veterinarian made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him," Rebecca Aloisi, vice president for marketing at the estate, said in an E-mail.
The other turkey pardoned in 2011, "Liberty," is doing just fine. "He eats enthusiastically, struts around his pen, and chatters quite a bit," Aloisi said.
As Lauren Fox reported on Whispers last year, the lives of pardoned turkeys are often short because they've been unhealthily fattened for the dinner table. The 2010 turkeys, "Apple" and "Cider," died within the year after being pardoned.
Presidents have been sparing the lives of turkeys every year since 1989, on President George H. W. Bush's first White House Thanksgiving.
At this year's pardon, some 150 reporters, four dozen White House staffers, and members of the National Turkey Federation gathered to watch the scene.
"The American people have spoken, and these birds are moving forward," Obama joked, in a nod to his campaign slogan "Forward," as daughters Sasha and Malia stood by his side. Cobbler greeted his pardon with a few loud gobbles, before John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" drowned out the bird's cries.
Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.