Well, demolition and construction work is now underway on the International Orangutan Center. This is all very exciting for the staff of the Indianapolis Zoo, but there were a few animal residents that might have found the excitement a bit much.
The area where lemur island was located, and the pond that surrounded it, were exactly where the construction site is now located. While the lemurs, which normally spend their winters inside a holding facility, were used to being moved, some of the “non-Zoo animal guests” in the pond hadn’t moved anywhere for years. A group of slider turtles had made the pond their adopted home, where they were favorites, along with the “guest” mallard ducks, of Zoo visitors enjoying lunch outside the Café on the Commons. They were particularly noticeable sunning on the log walkway connecting the island to the lemurs’ overnight quarters. The lemurs often had to leap over the turtles to get where they were going, providing great amusement for the guests and some fabulous photo opportunities (see above).
In early October before demolition work began, Zoo staff gently relocated approximately 20 slider turtles (most of them red-eared sliders) ranging in size from 4 inches to 12 inches to their new digs in White River. Instead of being confined to their small and safe pond, they will enjoy life in the big city on their own. Perhaps they’ll settle in with the group of slider turtles that like to sun themselves on the big logjam by the pedestrian bridge over White River.
Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic turtles that get their name from the distinctive red mark around their ears. They are known as “sliders” because of their ability to slide off rocks and logs into the water quickly. They are almost entirely aquatic, but leave the water to bask in the sun and lay eggs.
Red-eared sliders are omnivores with a diet consisting of things like crayfish, fish, aquatic plants and insects, etc. You may wonder how they are able to survive our cold Indiana winters. But like many reptiles, they don’t hibernate. Instead, they do something called “bromating” where they will typically go to the bottom of the river in late fall where they remain inactive until spring.
Here’s hoping we’ll see our old friends in their new home in the spring!
Lemur Photo by Eric Thorvaldsen
Release Photo by Josh Love