Sigmund was one of the first animals that you would see as you walked into the Southern Swamps building. He was a big Florida softshell turtle, weighing in at 55 pounds. He was a lazy turtle sometimes, as he would lay on the bottom of the aquarium and extend his neck all the way to the top to take a breath–over a foot away! Guests in the zoo would often do a double-take as they realized how long his neck could stretch!
If you’ve ever visited YouTube and typed in ZooAmerica, you would see Sigmund in a video taken by a guest. In this video he is busy staring at himself in the mirror. We would often give him a mirror on a string for enrichment because he liked to check himself out! He was also very spoiled when it came to food. Sometimes finicky, when he wouldn’t eat his shrimp, young mice, or minnows, we would go to Giant and pick him up some beef cubes.
He would occasionally eat minnows, but only if there were at least 10-20 in there with him. Once the number got down to 3 or 4, he would just accept them as exhibit friends. They would eat some of the algae off his shell and he never seemed to mind.
We were surprised and saddened when we came in two weeks ago to find that he had passed overnight. He was 35 years old, and softshell turtles only typically live 30 years. Like many of our animals, he lived much longer than expected. He originally came to the zoo one year after the zoo re-opened as ZooAmerica. Sigmund was a favorite among some of the zoo employees and will be missed.