WASHINGTON - Peace, one of two turkeys pardoned by President Obama last year, was euthanized Monday, according to an official who insisted the timing of the death - days before the Thanksgiving holiday - was not suspicious.
Rebecca Aloisi, vice president for marketing at the Mount Vernon Estate, confirmed that Peace had been died after a weekend "illness." But Aloise knew neither the nature of the illness, the manner of death, nor what had been done with the remains of the large, edible bird.
"I appreciate where you're going with this," Aloisi told CNN. "But I assure you that these birds are extremely well cared for." The decision to euthanize the bird was made by a veterinarian in consultation with Mount Vernon's livestock department, she said.
Peace had served as the understudy for Liberty, another turkey, at the 2011 pardoning ceremony by President Obama. Obama chose to pardon both birds to spare them from the fate of the plate.
But pressed on details about Peace's death, and what was done with the carcass, Aloisi deferred. "Honestly, I work in marketing," she said, defensively. "We have a 500-acre facility."
The facility - historic home of President George Washington - includes a landmark mansion, farm, wharf and the Mount Vernon Inn.
Asked if the inn serves turkey, Aloisi hedged. "That's a good question. I assume so," she said.
The inn, in fact, boasts of "costumed servers" who serve "delicious regional and colonial cuisine" including a "Roast Turkey Dinner" for $17.50, according to the inn's web site.
Aloisi said turkeys have short lifespans, especially those bred for eating. The timing of the death was "curious," Aloisi allowed, but not suspicious.
"I know that it was done in a humane manner but I don't know the mechanics," she said.
Mount Vernonanticipates receiving more turkeys following this year's pardoning ceremony. "We were very prepared to have all four birds live here," Aloisi said.
At the Nov. 23, 2011, pardoning, President Obama said Peace was "going to retire to a life of leisure at Mount Vernon - the same place where George Washington spent his golden years."
But now Peace is dead.
And two new birds pardoned by President Obama will be put on public display until early January, and will then be retired to live out the rest of their natural lives, spared the feast.
If that's what you choose to believe.