January 9, 2020

Hi, My Name is Bob

Before His Death, Bob the Alligator Snapping Turtle Was a Guest Favorite in His 27 Years at Denver Zoo


“Hi, my name is Bob.”

Not your typical label for a live animal, but that’s what the crate carrying a 100-pound alligator snapping turtle said when it showed up at Tropical Discovery in 1992. Three years earlier, a fisherman had discovered this very alligator snapping turtle in the Galveston Bay. The turtle was weak from living in the saltwater bay, a habitat not suited for this freshwater species. Houston Zoo rehabilitated the turtle, and he was off to Denver Zoo with his new name.

Bob was one of the first reptiles to call Tropical Discovery home, and delighted guests with his massive size for more than 27 years. Weighing 175 pounds, and measuring more than two feet, Bob spent a lot of time motionless (which is normal for the species) at the bottom of his tank, prompting many guests to ask us if he was even real! Bob may have looked aloof, but he was exhibiting the unique luring behavior of his species. Alligator snapping turtles have a modified tongue, designed to look like a worm. While the turtle is still, a fish or two might come to inspect the bait – only to become lunch. Bob didn’t need to do much luring at Denver Zoo, but he would surprise guests by going from slothful to stirring in a matter of seconds at feeding time.

Since Bob came from the wild, Tropical Discovery keepers could only estimate his age, but based on his size when he arrived in 1992, they believe he was more than 60 years old. He was a beloved founding member of Tropical Discovery, and will be missed by staff, volunteers and guests alike.


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