Liberty, a 45-pound turkey, is seen at the White House before being pardoned in 2011. The bird died two years later due to heart failure. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption toggle caption Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Politics The Strange Truth Behind Presidential Turkey Pardons November 25, 2015 Presidents have been pardoning turkeys for decades. But why? They used to eat them, actually. The history of the tradition is an odd and sad tale with lots of myths.