The Bronx Zoo, a Turtle, and some Triple-L

A trip to the Bronx Zoo… compliments of Charlee!  {Yay!}  Last year she won 4 tickets in a school raffle.  I forgot about them, stumbling across them only days away from their expiration.  This was the first ‘Triple-L’ of the day. 


Next was the weather.  Though winter, we walked around with our coats open.  {Okay, this might have had something to do with all the uphill hiking…}  Even better than these two ‘Triple-L’s was that Frank’s knee seems to be holding up!  {Awesome, especially since only weeks ago he had to crawl to the bathroom.} {FYI ~ We opted out of a few zoo events purposely, as the path steepness leading to certain exhibits paralleled a bit too closely to Russian-meniscus-roulette.}

Three ‘Triple-L’s’ under our belt, and we had no idea the biggest was yet to come. {insert cheesy big-kid smile 😉 }  



Today, a remarkable moment would materialize before our very eyes – in of all things The Reptile House.

A yawny exhibit if any.  Most times the creatures are sleeping in their cubbies, whatever they may be – a sleeping snake, a lounging lizard, a comatose crocodile – nothing much moves, much less puts on a performance.  I often wonder if some of those creatures are stuffed, like the animals at the museum.  {Of course, I know their not… but geez, talk about couch potato’s… Wondering also, if Mother Nature lectures?}


We walked the exhibit in typical meandering fashion, scattering temporarily to view the display’s of our choice.  The main area of the room was dimly lit.  Soft light, cast from individual habitats, was all the illumination we humans had – and if we weren’t directly next to each other, the darkness threatened to separate us… which continued to happen as we walked the exhibit.  

From the darkness Charlee called to me.  “Mom.”  I keyed into her voice – as every parent does with their child, no matter how big the crowd. {It’s a parental anomaly.  Seriously, how many ‘Moms’ are out there?!  And somehow we know the call of our offspring – like the penguins that find their young in a sea of a bazillion black and white ‘suits’… go figure…} 

“Mom. Over here!”  Following the sound trail, I found her peering through the shoulders of a family huddled up to a display.   

She stepped out of the crowd, and waved for me to come closer – much closer.  “There’s a worm cleaning the turtles tongue!”  Back into the crowd she went.  I couldn’t see... I couldn’t get between the huddled mass, and yet Charlee insisted.  “Mom! Come here. {pointing her finger to the spot she wanted me to take} Look!”  She beckoned ordered me to squeeze in.

I wedged my way into the crowd and tried to get a look at this crazy suicidal worm – but the heads of small children were constantly getting in the way.  {Not an opportune moment in terms of my height} I moved to one side… another head.  I moved to the other side… another head.  I stood on my toes thinking I could rise above this issue… but that only allowed me to see the top of the turtles’ shell.  “Can you see it?  Did you see it?!!”  I shook my head ‘No,’ standing even taller on my tippy-toes.  “It’s keeping it’s mouth open and letting the worm do it!?”  She was amazed. {I hoped to catch a glimpse before the worm stopped. I don’t know who would have been more upset – me or Charlee?}  Alex and Rabea heard the worm announcement and managed to work their way into the huddle.  Alex, who is more like Frank in the diplomacy and decorum area, {insert throat clearing ahem} just pressed himself and Rabea – and me – up to the display window.  {Gotta love him – gruff, maybe – but he knows what he wants – and what the people he loves want – and, like Frank, he makes sure everyone gets front and center.}  {No worries.  No people were injured during this process. ;)} 

I saw the ‘worm.’   “Uh?  Guys?  That’s not a worm.  That’s his tongue.”  Perplexed they chimed, “Whaatt?!!?” then leaned their faces closer to the glass.  “That’s a trick!  He’s trying to lure the fish with it!  That’s part of his tongue!”  Charlee was now bending her knees to peer at direct ‘worm’ level.  She glanced to the left, at the fish swimming nearby, then back at the ‘worm.’  Each of them did, as they all tried to decide if I was playing them… or if their original belief was correct.

Okay – time for an Alligator Snapping Turtle lesson. 

First off, they look absolutely prehistoric – like actual dinosaurs!   They might even pass for one of those ornamental stone statues placed in a garden – that is, if they didn’t look so scary, anti-garden-gnome-ish.  A sharp claw-like beak, boasts a horned tooth at its very tip – all while a curious Cheshire cat smile stays firmly cemented in place.  Don’t be fooled by the smile people, these creatures can bite through the handle of a broom stick – or human finger!  Best to leave these guys to the professionals.  {Definitely not pet material!}

Awesome Photo! (Wish mine had been worth sharing.  Unfortunately, due to the dark display and the water, they didn't come out well.)

Awesome Photo! (Wish mine had been worth sharing. Unfortunately, due to the dark display and the water, they didn’t come out well.) * David, if you want me to remove your awesome photo let me know, or send me a link. 😉

They patiently wait – in their stone-like, open mouthed stance – capable of remaining completely motionless underwater for 50+ minutes! – all while wriggling solely the ‘worm’ on their tongue. Camouflaged in eerie stillness.  It looks like such a calm and serene environment – such a nice habitat… cute little fishies lingering nearby, checking out dinner options… surveying the ‘worm’…. a well played masquerade. 


As the-fish-to-the-left started to make his move, Alex became our personal play-by-play announcer, “Uh oh!  Look at the fish – look at the fish!”  We watched as the-fish-to-the-left – – Alex chimed, “Uh Oh! Don’t do it! Oh No!” – – swam right into the seemingly inanimate, opened mouth of the turtle. {The kids, confirmed by their facial expressions, were still wondering if I was playing them}  The-fish-to-the-left floated unconcerned, in what must have appeared to him as a safe cavern… Charlee quickly looked at me, hoping I was wrong, then looked back to the fish.  The turtle did not move at all as the fish hovered just above the ‘worm’ …however, when the fish attempted to eat that ‘worm’ – – SLAM!!  It was over in a second!  The turtles mouth snapped shut with devastating power, marked sorely by the-fish-to-the-left’s tale… which now ominously floated by.  {Remember that smile?  I swear the turtle smirked.} 

“WHOA?!!”  A moment of commotion ensued from all, the huddled family included.  “Did you SEE THAT?!”  Alex shook his head, “Damn!”  Charlee pointed out the other fish in the back of the tank, who were twitching after also witnessing this event.  Alex – the announcer – broke the ice, FRED?!? What happened to Fred?!”  

We couldn’t help but laugh… {However, the ‘huddle family’ moved to the next display.}

He feigned crying, {Sniff – WaaAaah :(} “Fred!”

{Pretending he is one of Fred’s fishy classmates…}  “Don’t leave the school!” 

{Calling to him – arms reaching, pleading for ‘Fred’ to stay…}  “Fred?? No, No, Fred! Come back here! Awwww.”

{Dropping his arms in defeat – shaking his head in sad disbelief…}  “Poor Fred.”  

{Signaling to the fish now huddled together in the – way – back of the tank.} “And that kids, is why you don’t leave the school…”  

“The other fish are gonna go home tonight and tell their Mom’s… You know what happened today?  Fred cut out of class and – and – and he never came back!”  Jokester boy went on to explain how this could be an excellent message for kids all over, “See… all the more reason to Stay in school! {funny kid…}

Well, there you have it.  Our moment of thrill in The Reptile House:  Seeing an Alligator Snapping Turtle successfully lure, ambush and eat a fish.  Live!  How awesome is that!! 

{Okay… not so awesome for the fish… but if you gotta go, why not by some prehistoric looking unique creature?  With witnesses – like me – who will write about you and the ultimate sacrifice you just made.}

Charlee, Rabea & Alex

Charlee, Rabea & Alex




Frank!  One of my favorites!!

Frank! One of my favorites!!



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