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Rio the Turkey is home for the holidays

Tammy Elkins Taylor’s pet turkey Rio has been missing for almost a year. Last week when Facebook posts starting popping up about a turkey showing up in town in areas around the college, it crossed Taylor’s mind that it could be Rio. However, that was a long-shot at best for a turkey to go from Dogwood Heights to the area near Chipola College and she knew he had not graduated high school yet. In an interview with Taylor Saturday morning she was still more than shocked that her family pet was safe at home after MIA for nearly a year.  

Taylor said, “It’s so crazy, he left in October of last year. We’ve been looking for him, we went around to Ben Saunders place on Old US Road and we looked and looked, because they have turkeys too. His gate was still closed the morning when we got up and he was gone so we thought someone probably took him. We had hoped that maybe he had flown out and went there, anyway we looked and looked. We kind of had just given up that we would never see him again.”

Taylors says that when her hope was sparked again when she saw the Facebook posts but knew that was truly a long shot, “Jonathan Fuqua and Russell Roberts started talking about this turkey that kept coming to visit them last night on Facebook. Stacy Larkin was talking about one at her door and I’m like, ‘Do y’all have a picture of this turkey?’ Especially when they were saying he was trying to get inside, because he was a pet and would follow us all over the yard and stay right with us or come up to the porch. When they sent the picture I was like, ‘Tim, this looks like Rio.’”

When Taylor told Fuqua, Roberts and Larkin about the turkey and that he looked like the family’s turkey they told her that Rio had been making his rounds visiting people. Elkins said Stacy said she had given him some cat food and I don’t know what all Jonathan and Russell may have thrown out for him to have.

Her hopes were given a boost Saturday morning, “Then I get a text this morning saying he was at Dr. Sherrill’s office trying to get in the front door of the doctor’s office. They sent me a picture with him at Dr. Sherrill’s office trying to get in the front door.  So, we get in the car and go up there.  But when we get there the lawn equipment must have scared him off I guess with the mowers and stuff. We’re riding around Fourth Street and all in there looking for him and Tim’s calling him, ‘Rio, Rio, Rio.’ We turned down Second Street and I stopped to call him and we heard him and so, we’re looking. We can’t see him, but we can hear him. Finally, we start down by the office and all of a sudden Tim goes, ‘Stop! There he is!’ I stopped and Tim bails out of the car and he was on the porch of the Lewis’ that live on Second Street. He was trying to get in their front door. Tim picked him up and put him in the car and he road home in Tim’s lap to our house and that’s where he is now.”

Rio is safely locked in a cage where he can’t get out and make a second trip around town. Taylor says Rio has now reached celebrity status.  He has been invited to be in the Marianna High School homecoming parade. Taylor said that Marianna football booster president Robert Reiff called and wanted to know if Rio would be available to be in Marianna’s homecoming parade. Rio had also been invited to the Russ House, Taylor says, “There are a few other little things that people have been calling and wanting him to do. He’s become quite the little celebrity.”

The Taylors had Rio about two and a half years before he went missing. Rio is about three and a half years old now. Some of Rio’s favorite activities at home are following his ‘dad’ Tim around on the lawn mower and will occasionally take a ride on the mower. Taylor said she is undecided on what she and Rio will ride on in the homecoming parade and is uncertain if Rio will be the Grand Marshall of the parade. Taylor laughed when she said, “They did tell us they wanted us to bring him downtown before the parade and let him hob nob. I never knew my claim to fame would be a turkey. He just roams in the yard and follows Tim while he’s doing his farm duties; feeding the chickens and rabbits, planting trees and whatever Tim is doing outside, Rio is his sidekick.”

Taylor named Rio after the 2011 movie ‘Rio’ because he was very colorful and all of his tailfeathers had beautiful colors. People knew or could tell by Rio’s actions that he wasn’t just a random turkey when he would stop and pay citizens a visit. Taylor said that Stacy Larkin’s son Dustin told his mom that he wasn’t just a turkey, that he had to be someone’s pet because he would just walk right up to them. Taylor continued to say that Rio will let you hug him, rub or kiss him on top of his head and that he’s very loveable. She says they’ve always been able to touch him and that Rio acts more like a dog than a turkey. Along with Rio the Taylors have 60 chickens, 16-18 rabbits, four other turkeys, two dogs and a green cheeked parrot. Taylor said that the chickens love Rio, the turkeys they got after Rio went missing so they are a little curious as to why he is there and that Rio is really curious as to why his daddy has all of these turkeys now. 

Keep your eyes open for Rio’s guest appearances about town – it’s sure to be entertaining. For the next week, Elkins says she thinks Rio will be perfectly content to sit at home and be petted by family.

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