Those who become a guardian will receive a digital or print certificate with their chosen turkey's photo along with a bio they can display.

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A group of animal sanctuaries is offering a unique and compassionate way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, asking people to 'adopt' a turkey instead of cooking one.

The Gentle Barn, which has animal sanctuaries in California, Tennessee, and Missouri, is inviting people to become "Turkey Guardians" in time for the holiday with a one-time contribution of $35 for a turkey or $150 for the whole flock, the sanctuary shared with Travel + Leisure. The money will be put toward helping turkeys at all three of the group's locations.

"We are calling on people to stand up for turkeys, the planet, and their own health and well-being," Ellie Laks, the founder of The Gentle Barn, told T+L. "With this program, we hope to generate more understanding of what these innocent animals are really like. Most people don't realize that turkeys are affectionate, intelligent, and very social, both amongst themselves and… humans. They live in big family groups, are highly communicative, and even love music."

Each turkey has their own personality from Sun, who was rescued in 2015 and now spends her days pecking on blueberries and cuddling with her best friend Gus the goat in California, to Smudge, who loves to be held and cuddled by humans at the Missouri location and goes on outings as a comfort turkey. Then there's Luke Skywalker, who runs to the gate every morning for his breakfast salad in Tennessee and proudly shows off his feathers and dances for his female friends, and Romeo, who was rescued from the streets in St. Louis before moving to sunny California where he vies to be the center of attention.

Two turkeys looking at one another
Credit: Courtesy The Gentle Barn

Those who become a guardian will receive a digital or print certificate with their chosen turkey's photo along with a bio they can display.

Besides turkeys, The Gentle Barn also rescues cows, donkeys, pigs, llamas, goats, and more. Travelers can visit each of the three locations on Sundays, learning about the work they do and meeting the animals. Those who can't make it in person can book a private virtual tour of the California or Tennessee properties for up to 30 sign-ins.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.