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Talking turkey – tribute to Kurk “The Park mascot”

From appearing on TV to meeting two Mayors – how Kurk rose to fame

Main image: Kurk on his 13th birthday this year. Picture Andy Moseley

All other images Sue Mackinnon, KWMC

Messages of support have poured in from local people following the news that Kurk the Knowle West turkey from The Park Centre passed away recently.

Kurk, who lived happily at Andy’s Haven – a community garden and mini farm – was something of a local celebrity after frequently hitting the headlines. 

He first flew to fame after appearing on the BBC’s Urban Jungle and featuring in a winning entry for a photographic exhibition.

Kurk, who was 13 in March, was reared from the age of three by gardener Andy Moseley – who runs the Haven. He was brought there traumatised after a fox attack at nearby Bramble Farm  – which killed all the other turkeys.

His name was picked from a competition at The Park – and he settled down well with the other inhabitants including hens, ducks and goats. 

He was Andy’s constant companion and became extremely attached to him – following him around like a dog.

Andy recalls: “When I first brought him back from Bramble Farm he was pecking my face, after that, I took him home for a few weeks… and he became protective and allowed no-one near me…

“He would attack everyone unless I held him. I wouldn’t let him go because he would have changed, he felt safe when he was with me because he knew I was safe…”

His aggression to others meant he had to be shut away when people came to Andy’s Haven – but it didn’t put the crowds off.

Meeting two Bristol Mayors

But he was on best behaviour when he was a guest of honour at the ‘24 Hours in Bristol’ photographic competition in 2013 to see himself in a winning entry by German photojournalist Dirk Opitz from the city’s twin town of Hanover.

Andy and Kurk next to the winning entry by Dirk Opitz.

The exhibition was launched at the city’s Guildhall – where Kurk was introduced to former Lord Mayor Faruk Chowdrey and the then Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson, who both happily posed for pictures with him – and even picked him up. 

Former Bristol Mayor George Ferguson with Andy and Kurk.

Kurk is presented to the former Lord Mayor of Bristol Faruk Chowdrey.

He stole the show as guests jostled to take snaps of the pair, next to their winning portrait.

But Andy admits that if he had put Kurk down at the event, “things might have been very different.”

Public flocked to see him

As his notoriety grew, visitors coming to the Haven always wanted a glimpse of the local celebrity.

Andy says: “So many people used to take pictures of Kurk, even though people were afraid of him, they wanted to see him. 

“He was a mascot for The Park, everyone loved him …. I had so many messages about him from people when he died because he’s been on TV and in newspapers and magazines and is famous.”

But Andy recalls there were moments when Kurk’s natural behaviour caused a problem.

“Once when a group was here he escaped and I had a call from a woman’s husband to say she was trapped in the compost toilet and he was outside – and I had to go and rescue her!”

Home for Christmas

The bond between Andy and Kurk was so great, he would take him home every Christmas for a couple of weeks “for his safety”.

Andy, a strict vegetarian, recalls: “He would sit on the sofa with me watching telly. People have said you are the only person who takes a turkey home for Christmas and brings him back!

“This Christmas will be the worst because he won’t be with me…”

His father’s son

Kurk leaves a son Charlie (7) who is still at Andy’s Haven and “exactly like him” in temperament, although he doesn’t follow Andy around like his father.

Andy feels Kurk is irreplaceable – and the close affection between the pair was one of the things which attracted people to the community garden.

He says: “He was the first turkey I ever had and my babby. I’ll miss him, even now I still go to his shed and realise he’s not there.”