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Presidential turkey makes a break for it at State Capitol

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: November 18, 2011 - 4:20 PM

Updated 4:05 pm

In the Capitol’s august governor’s reception room, Turkey Ted tried to make an escape.

Ted, one of a flock of 30 presidential turkeys, visited the Capitol before a possible trip to the White House for a pardon from President Barack Obama next week.

Perhaps not knowing his potentially cushy fate, the bird bolted from his cage before Minnesota's annual turkey ceremony. As Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar looked on, the turkey was soon repenned and kept calm by Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. Frederickson was quickly dubbed the "Turkey Whisperer." [EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's a photo gallery.]

Ted was actually specifically trained for his trip to the White House. Willmar high school students exposed him, and the rest of his flock, to light, sound and music -- although not specifically "Hail to the Chief" -- in advance to deal with his coming role.

The bird showed off his good manners in short order. When placed upon a table, he calmly waited as Dayton, Klobuchar and others petted him and press cameras clicked and whirred. Ted did not have a comment for the assembled media.

Minnesota was selected to provide the presidential bird because the president of the National Turkey Growers Association hails from the state. The last time a Minnesota bird got the honor was in 2005.

Two of the best behaved birds, although not necessarily Ted, will be driven to the White House next week. Once pardoned, the selected turkey will live out the rest of his days at Mount Vernon.

The rest of the presidential flock will end up donated to a local food shelf.

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