Historic Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida, just lost a celebrity.
Mac, a 50-year-old-plus alligator snapping turtle who was recently featured in a children’s book about the attraction, died Oct. 18.
The cause of death is a mystery. The animal had not been ill or injured, nor did he show signs of distress prior to his passing, said spokesman Dwayne Biggs in a Facebook announcement. Necropsy results are due in the coming weeks.
“The Sunken Gardens family, and especially the animal care team members, are deeply shocked and saddened by this unexpected loss,” said the 118-year-old facility’s post with a video of Mac swimming in his habitat.
Mac’s exact age is not known but he reportedly arrived at the lush, tranquil spot sometime in the 1960s.
“Mac was an important part of Sunken Gardens and a special turtle,” Biggs said. “We share the heartbreak with the animal care team who knew him best, as well as our admiration for their outstanding commitment to Mac and to all the animals in our care.”
The alligator snapping turtle is protected as a state species of special concern by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule. This species can live in captivity up to about 70 years, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
Condolences poured in under the post:
“I’ve been visiting Mac since I was a kid in the ’60s. Sad to see him go, but what a wonderful life he led and in such a beautiful place.”
“Rest in paradise, Mac. Maybe he was just older and wiser than anyone ever realized.”
“So sorry to hear this! That was one cool turtle!!”
Mac will live on the interactive kids’ book “Sophie and Zack at Sunken Gardens” by Robin Gonzalez, a Tampa resident who frequented the popular attraction as a child.