One thing never ceases to amaze me about the annual New York Turtle & Tortoise Society (NYTTS) turtle show – how fast the time goes. Allen and I drive into Manhattan, arrive at the Village Community School at 11 am, and spend the next hour setting up (we don’t bring turtles; we bring turtle chotchkes to sell) in the school yard.
At noon, the “doors” open to people and turtles. What feels like mere minutes later, it’s 5pm – the white, red and blue ribbons are being announced, and the trophy for best turtle is given for health, longevity and breeding success.
And then it’s 6—time to pack up and go home.
How does the day go by so fast?
Many things remain the same from year to year: turtles bask in tanks and tubs and kiddie pools. Umbrellas provide shade for some; pottery shards, newspaper, and plastic tubs shelter others from the heat of the day.
Sulcatas, red foots, yellow foots and leopard tortoises mosey around the school yard, getting under people’s feet, eliciting oohs and ahhs and attracting everyone with a digital camera (including me, of course).
Dr. Roger Wood of the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, New Jersey is on hand with educational displays, adult and hatchling diamondback terrapins, students from Stockton State College and international interns learning about turtle conservation.
A veterinarian, most often Dr. Bill McCord, goes from turtle to turtle, carefully judging each turtle and giving each owner care advice. (How old is your box turtle and what are you feeding it? It’s two years old and you’re giving it fruits and vegetables? Try to give it worms once a week, or a pinky. It needs more protein at this stage of life.)
Dozens of turtle species are exhibited: red-eared sliders, snappers, spotted turtles, eastern box turtles, Chinese box turtles, Greek tortoises, cooters, mata matas, hingback tortoises, Horsefelds tortoises – even some Japanese pond turtles, which won this year’s grand prize.
One thing is plain: people love their turtles!
When I can get away from our sale table, I walk around, take photos, talk to old friends, and do my own ohhing and ahhing over the turtles.
The day is rarely long enough!