President Obama Pardons Two Virginia Turkeys

11/21/2012 at 03:10 PM EST

White House Turkey Pardon 2012
President Barack Obama with daughters Sasha and Malia Obama
Olivier Douliery/Abaca
Two young turkeys are breathing a sigh of relief right about now, thanks to President Barack Obama, who spared their lives in a gesture of executive poultry power.

As First Daughters Malia and Sasha looked on this afternoon, the President spared the 4-month-old male birds from becoming Thanksgiving dinner in a White House ceremony known as the turkey pardon.

The lucky birds, named Cobbler and Gobbler, were both born on July 13 and raised on a Rockingham Country, Va., farm. In a nod to democracy or the public appetite for reality-TV competitions, the social-savvy White House took to Facebook and asked the public to vote on which bird would be named the official 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey.

Cobbler, the lighter of the two at 40 lbs., keeps his feathers fanned out and has a strut when he walks. Forty-three-lb. Gobbler, meanwhile, keeps his feathers down and has a "patient but proud" walk.

The vote count was neck and turkey neck, but Cobbler was the victor after earning 2,789 likes to Gobbler's 2,554. With Gobbler the stand-in waiting in the wings, white-feathered Cobbler took center stage at the event.

Before pardoning the turkeys, Obama encouraged his daughters to pet Cobbler. Sasha seemed willing to interact with the bird, but Malia looked horrified and refused, causing her dad – and the press in attendance – to laugh out loud.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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