Abraham Lincoln gave the first Washington clemency to a turkey in 1863, according to White House records. Since then, ceremonies involving turkeys have taken place around Thanksgiving at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but pardons became a yearly event under Ronald Reagan in 1981.
So where do the turkeys go after they are pardoned?
Instead of heading into the wild, the pardoned turkeys go to a retirement community dedicated to the fowl in Virginia.
The turkeys pardoned by President Obama in 2016, Tater and Tot, went to live out their years in a place called Gobbler’s Rest, an area of Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where the birds are cared for by students and veterinarians in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences.