Britain’s luckiest turkey which has dodged the Christmas pot for 17 years despite being named DINNER is now facing the chop – because of bird flu.
The plucky bird, which is owned by retired teachers Stephen Gee and Marie Rogers, was bought as a chick in 1999.
The couple, who run a city farm, nicknamed it Dinner as a joke and decided to keep it as a pet instead of sending it to the slaughterhouse.
Six years ago Dinner even found love when it caught the eye of a turkey hen and they now live together at Stonebridge City Farm, St Anns, Nottingham.
But now Dinner’s number might be up after the couple revealed the farm is in lockdown after fears that bird flu was sweeping the local area.
Mum-of-two Marie, 63, said: “We named him as a bit of fun as a nod to his fortune at surviving every Christmas.
“He’s like a pet now. He’s never come close to being slaughtered because we just couldn’t do that to him.
“I think that’s why he doesn’t like humans too much – because he has it at the back of his mind that he might one day end up on someone’s plate for Christmas dinner.
“We are really worried this could be his last Christmas because we are at risk of avian flu.
“The authorities might close the farm, not because we have avian flu, but because we have visitors who bring their birds to our farm, we have already had three chickens put in with ours.”
An outbreak of bird flu wiped out 5,000 turkeys at a farm in Louth, Lincs., last week.
Farms across Britain have now been warned their flocks will be culled if the virulent H5N8 strain of the disease spreads.
The disease can spread over vast distances in a short amount of time – sending bird farmers into panic.
Stephen, 65, added: “It is devastating for farms this time of year to lose all your turkeys.
“We are having to keep Dinner and other birds in the barn to avoid it because we will have to put them down if they get it.
“He’s not liking it at the minute.
“But he’s still very protective of his lady, he’s often got his tail up.
“Bird flu is obviously very easy to catch and it only takes one bird to contract it and land in your farm and that’s it.
“If one gets it then they all get culled and that include Dinner.
“It will be terribly sad if we lose him after all these years. He’s become a permanent fixture in our lives.
“Hopefully we can keep him free from infection but it is highly contagious. We can’t do any more than keep him and the other birds inside and hope for the best.”
Dinner and the rest of the birds will stay inside the barn for a month to prove none of the flock are harbouring the disease.