Thursday, May 23, 2013

Happy World Turtle Day

     I am ashamed as a lover of ALL THINGS TURTLE, that it took me half a day to realize it is World Turtle Day today! I love turtles. A lot.

     To celebrate world turtle day, here are some of my favorite turtle encounters... it's like a little walk down memory lane...

My husband... when this was taken, still boyfriend, at the time, and I visited his sister and her family down in Raleigh, NC. This snapper's head was so big, it was totally eating baby ducks, no problem. Look at that devilish smile.
I was a zookeeper and we get a call from someone in the park who found a HUGE turtle. This common snapping turtle was probably a female in search of a suitable place for making a nest. Most people in Brooklyn do not realize that a) we have snapping turtles, b) they belong here, and c) how big they can actually get! We helped her back to a less trafficked area and let her be on her way.
This is the result of the above photo. Found this little guy at work. Baby snappers are incredibly cute. At least I think so.
I was feeding the ducks at work, when I was a keeper. And I noticed that this was not our usual red eared sliders that we have on the pond. It looked like a diamondback terrapin....and was. 
So we are on our honeymoon, and we go to Panama. We travel by dingy to Isla Iguana, which for this reptile girl, is paradise, an island overrun with iguanas. Perfect. And then we snorkeled and this happened... 
Legend has it, according to my husband, I squealed SO LOUD underwater, he heard me from quite a distance away because it has been my dream to see a wild sea turtle....in the wild (I have cared for injured sea turtles before, so that just didn't cut it), and this green sea turtle was it. We swam about with him for so long, we lost track of time and where we were, since we had no guide, swimming around a reef in the Pacific Ocean, that the tide was going out and swimming back was a challenge as you didn't want to damage the coral or scrape yourself on it. We had a few inches clearance from the coral swimming back to shore. But this was like the best thing ever.... I suppose, after getting married. 
And I have to end with this. Meet Yoda. She is my pet 3-toed box turtle. Now why is she in this post? Well, she was an encounter out there in the world. She was brought to the zoo when I was a keeper by a visitor who found her in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  These turtles are native to the mid-west, not so much the east coast. She was clearly a throw away, and no longer wanted by who ever had her. She had scrapes along her plastron hinge (that's the bottom part of the shell) and was incredibly shy and scared. With a visit to the vet, daily injections of antibiotics- which is really hard to do on a turtle that can pull in its extremities AND close its shell, she got better. She, with time... came out of her shell, personality-wise - turtles cannot come out of their shell. The reason I put here here is because 1: wild animals are meant to be wild, if you want a pet, adopt one or buy one that was bread in captivity. Collecting animals from the wild causes decline in population, especially when everyone wants one. 2: Turtles live a long time. I do not know how old Yoda is, but I do know she came to us as an adult, fully grown. She may be with us for another 50 years, and we plan to keep her for how ever long she chooses to crawl this earth. Remember, pets are a commitment and cannot be dumped because chances are they will not survive. Please make good decisions when it comes to wildlife encounters.
 A very happy World Turtle Day to you all, from Yoda and myself!