Easter the Turkey Is More Than Just a Pet

By Daniel He
Daniel He
Daniel He
January 19, 2016 Updated: January 19, 2016

A turkey named Easter surprised nearby passengers when it was noticed sitting on a seat on an airplane. 

Easter was travelling with her owner, Jodie Smalley, to visit her relatives for Christmas. The two were travelling from Seattle, WA on a Delta flight en route to Salt Lake City, Utah. 

After landing, Smalley pushed the bird in a wheelchair, on their way out of the airport.  

Easter clearly made a big impact on his journey.  The flight attendants and airport staff were all excited to witness the sight. Even the pilots came out to take a picture with Easter. 

A picture of Easter went viral on social news website Reddit, sparking a variety of opinions: 

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all,” one user posted.

Another user said, “My hopes of one day having a service Cassawary have been reignited!”

And then there was a this comment: “After reading this I decided I need an emotional support whale with me at all times.”

However, this wasn’t some act to be eccentric or to get attention. Easter is in fact an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) there to assist Smalley.

An ESA is a pet that has been licensed by a health professional, and aims to provide emotional/psychological comfort to the patient, according to the National Service Animal Registry. Unlike service animals that need to be trained to perform tasks the handler cannot perform themselves, these therapy animals mainly relieve stress, provide friendship, and help with anxiety. 

The different species of “therapy pets” has grown in recent times to include pigs, snakes, mice, birds, hedgehogs, and miniature horses.  

Easter has helped Smalley get through some of the hardest times in her life. 

“Easter is a pleasant distraction, a source of love, and affection. In the last year and a half I lost hope, stability, a home, a marriage, a family of in-laws and my husband,” said Smalley, according to BBC. She soon fell in love with the bird, and they have been on many trips together.

“Easter came to me as a tiny poult at an emotionally difficult time in my life being in an mentally abusive and failing marriage,” wrote Smalley, on her Facebook page

“I kiss and hug her before I go to bed and scratch her head when I’m feeling anxious while driving. I feel moments of peace when I just simply watch this curious and beautiful creature just be without concern. I openly laugh at her innocent mischief and vicariously experience the wonder she brings to those she meets,” says the page.

Found on the side of the road on Easter Day, Smalley has raised Easter ever since it was a little chick. 


Daniel He