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'Tater' and 'Tot' spared from Thanksgiving dinner in Obama's final turkey pardon

The 18-week-old Iowa-born turkeys were spared from the dinner table by President Obama on Wednesday.

By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware
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'Tater' and 'Tot' spared from Thanksgiving dinner in Obama's final turkey pardon
President Barack Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey "Tot" in a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday. Raised in Iowa, the turkey -- along with the alternate, "Tater" -- will retire to "Gobblers Rest" at Virgina Tech University. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama granted his eighth and final pardon to two Thanksgiving turkeys on Wednesday.

In accordance with tradition, the president spared the lives of "Tater" and "Tot," from Storm Lake, Ia., and saved them from the Thanksgiving dinner table. Both 18-week-old turkeys will be sent to a new home at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.

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"Tot" is the primary national turkey and "Tater" the alternate.

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"Tater and Tot will go to their new home at Virginia Tech -- which, admittedly, is a bit Hokie," Obama said in a pithy reference to the school's mascot. "They will get to live out their natural lives in a facility called Gobblers Rest, where students and veterinarians will care for them."

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The president's clemency apparently stirred exciting emotions from "Tot," which began to wildly flap its wings at the end of the ceremony.

"Oh -- freedom!" a grinning Obama exclaimed.

President Barack Obama waves to onlookers after pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey, "Tot," in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday. After receiving its pardon, "Tot" expressed excitement by flapping its wings wildly. Image courtesy the White House

The White House said Tater's daily meal is ground corn and soybeans in pellets, while he snacks on worms. He "walks with a swagger" and has a gobble style classified as "strong."

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Tot, on the other wing, has a "confident" gobble style and "walks with a relaxed saunter." He also enjoys ground corn and soybeans in pellets, but substitutes worms for tomato slices as his preferred snack.

Before he pardoned the birds, Obama acknowledged that this is his final Thanksgiving in the White House.

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"On this Thanksgiving, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the American people for the trust they have placed in me over these last eight years and the incredible kindness they have shown my family," he said. "We want to thank you so very, very much."

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The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a tradition that goes back to the 1940s and has resulted in the president pardoning one primary turkey and one alternate bird from the dinner table since former President George H. W. Bush's first White House Thanksgiving in 1989.

Obama's turkey pardons:

2009 - Courage and Carolina
2010 - Apple and Cider
2011 - Liberty and Peace
2012 - Cobbler and Gobbler
2013 - Popcorn and Caramel
2014 - Mac and Cheese
2015 - Honest and Abe
2016 - Tater and Tot

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