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RIP: Capone, the Resident Alligator Snapping Turtle At the Cincinatti Zoo

October 12, 2015



Capone, a 150-pound alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) that became a resident of the Cincinnati Zoo in 1998, has died. Zoo officials are unsure how old Capone was.  Capone was a fan favorite at the zoo, as many patrons came to enjoy watching him devour whole fish during feeding time. His keepers at the zoo considered Capone to be the “Old Man” of Manatee Springs, where he was kept at the zoo even though his age was not known. 

Capone the alligator snapping turtle

Cincinnati Zoo

Capone came to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1998.

The keepers at the zoo called Capone a charismatic turtle who gave students who came to the zoo a lesson in patience. The students would use a feeding pole to give Capone herring, and when they would nervously take the tongs, after a keeper told them not to “drop the tongs,” they would feed Capone. Many times students had trouble handling the fish on the tongs, and Capone would wait patiently for them to get a grip and then at the opportune time, would grab the fish enthusiastically. 

Capone, in spite of his massive size, easily blended with his rock environment, and could hide in plain sight until he was discovered by guests.

“Everybody who worked around Capone came to really love him. What he may have lacked in the “cute and cuddly” department (unless you ask me because I thought he was adorable), he made up for in charisma,” said Lindsay Garrett, a keeper at the zoo. “He often would beg from keepers as they were working around his tank. In previous years he had been fed through some of the holes in the exhibit rockwork. Even long after he was fed that way, he would peak his massive head through one of the holes hoping for a treat. We will all miss Capone.”

Alligator snapping turtles live in river systems that drain into the Gulf of Mexico, from Florida to Texas and as far north to southern Iowa. They are large turtles with a powerful bite, capable of inflicting serious injury on humans. They are a long loved turtles with some estimates putting the lifespan of up to 150 years. 

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