Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, the co-founders of Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary in Campbellville, Ontario, Canada shared some sad news today. Cornelius the Turkey–beloved long-time sanctuary resident and best friend of Esther the Wonder Pig, passed away, after a long battle with arthritis and heart disease. Thankfully, he's out of pain now. The Sanctuary shared the news on their Facebook page:
Today Cornelius was set free of his pain. CT results confirmed what we suspected, that his arthritis had progressed to a point where the pain could not be relieved and he had developed heart disease.
Before heading over the rainbow bridge, Cornelius ate a blueberry pie under the sun surrounded by love.
We are honoured to have known and cared for Cornelius. His personality (and bite scars ) will stay with us forever.
The people closest to Cornelius, including our founders, were given the sad news yesterday morning. They each had the opportunity to see Cornelius and say goodbye.
In 2012, Steve and Derek adopted Esther, a piglet they were told was a "micro pig," but who turned out to be anything but. In fact, Esther was a full-sized commercial pig who grew to 600 pounds in just a few years. Steve and Derek were already committed to keeping Esther—who had become family—so they bought a farm and founded Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary in 2014. On the Sanctuary website, they describe their mission:
Our mission is to rescue abused, neglected, and abandoned farmed animals; provide a safe, life-long home for all of our sanctuary residents; educate the public about the true nature of farmed animals; and promote the health and well-being of farmed animals everywhere.
Today I said goodbye to one of my very best friends. Sleep well, my handsome feathered friend. I love you.
A few words from my dad: Within weeks of Cornelius's arrival at the farm, it became very clear that he had a mind of his own, and an attitude to go with it. He would follow our piggy princess all over the farm, leading the way on our walks and waiting at the sliding door in the backyard when we got home. He came from a place where he was best friends with the man who raised him, and later found out that Corno would escort his human around their property wherever he went, just like he did when he moved to the farm. He was a people turkey, but not all people. For a while, sanctuary caregivers would come collect him from the back deck while he pecked and picked fights with whoever was tasked with escorting him back to the barn. Needless to say, it was only a matter of time before I caved and he was invited inside. From that point forward, Cornelius was a house turkey, a member of the family, and self-appointed security guard for Esther.
Cornelius completely changed my perception of birds, much the way Esther did for pigs. It wasn't that he was special (he was special, but that's beside the point) it was because he was allowed to be himself and to show us who he really was. That's the amazing thing about animals. We can learn so much from them if we pay attention.
He was affectionate, loyal, and hilarious. He hated everyone except his chosen flock, and that was just one of the many reasons I fell so madly in love with him. He was like a grumpy old man in a bird's body who lived his life in his terms. He made me smile every single day. He was one of my best friends. He was family.
I would have killed for one last Corno hug, and although I didn't get one, he did hold my hand while he drifted off to dreamland.
Thank you for letting me love you, sweet man. I miss you already, and I always will.
Rest in Peace, sweet, funny, sassy Cornelius—your family and your fans (including me!) will certainly miss you. Thank you for all of the joy you brought into our lives!