Zoo fans might remember the story of Mr. Happy, a 27-year-old Blanding’s turtle who came to us last year with a serious medical issue. The friendly turtle, who resides at Pokagon State Park, had ingested a large rock that was blocking his digestive tract.
Blanding’s turtles are endangered in Indiana, so Mr. Happy is an important ambassador for our state’s wildlife. When he got sick and stopped eating last year, park officials and zoo staff were quick to respond. You can read about his surgery here.
We’re happy to report that one year later, Mr. Happy is doing great! Staff from the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo recently paid a visit to Mr. Happy and his caregivers and discovered that the turtle is healthy and thriving.
Interpretive naturalist Mandi Webb spoke of the turtle’s healthy appetitie, “He’s doing very well. He eats a lot. We call Mr. Happy the ‘finisher-upper’ because of how much he eats.” Webb works with Mr. Happy almost every day and stated that his appetite never wanes.
Long-time park naturalist Fred Wooley concurred with Webb, “Mr. Happy is doing very well. We’re fortunate to have contacts within the animal conservation field who will provide medical care for sick or injured animals. Blanding’s turtles can live to be 80 and Mr. Happy is eating and behaving normally.”
To demonstrate his vigor, Pokagon staff arranged a race for Mr. Happy. His opponent was Mr. Box, an eastern box turtle who resides with Mr. Happy at the park’s Nature Center.
Although Mr. Happy didn’t win this time, Webb assured his fans that the turtle wasn’t upset about the loss. “Mr. Happy does win races sometimes, but he’s easily distracted. Sometimes he just wants to stop and look at the leaves on the ground.”
Perhaps Mr. Happy’s story has a lesson to offer: Don’t race too quickly to the finish line without stopping to enjoy the journey.
Click on the photos to enlarge: