Background on the turtle is as follows:
This is a female red-eared slider turtle, a common species to Missouri. This particular turtle was found by an individual in 1993 in south St. Louis County wearing the remains of a plastic 6-pack ring. It was then taken to the St. Louis Zoo where the ring was cut off of the shell. Because the turtle was not a 'typical' looking specimen, it could not be displayed by the zoo. However, because it was native to Missouri, the zoo keepers gave the turtle to the Missouri Department of Conservation staff to use for interpretive programs. The turtle was X-rayed by a local veterinarian and found that except for the shell (which is actually fused backbone and ribs), only the lungs were deformed by the lack of growth around the waist. At the time of capture the turtle was 9 years old (possibly born in 1984). It is believed that the turtle had the ring around its shell for a time of four to five years.
The turtle is on permanent display at the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles, MO. She has traveled across the state since 1993 for numerous programs on reptiles and the effects of litter. This turtle is even a ‘poster girl’ by having her own anti-litter poster for the “No MOre Trash” campaign. Recently she has been on loan to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson, MO where she has received her most recent anti-litter attention. The most current interest in the Figure-8 turtle has come from her recent appearance in Branson MO. Her story in June 2006 was sent across the country.
This red-eared slider goes by many names. She is called “Peanut”, “The Hour-glass Turtle”, “Six-Pack”, “The Figure-8 Turtle”, and “Mae West”. As of 2009 she is now 25 years old. Red-eared sliders can live as long as 30+ years in captivity. The turtle is doing well in captivity and has a healthy diet of crickets, minnows, salad greens, and earth worms . . . yum!
The photo which appears on the inside back cover of the June 1995 Missouri Conservationist magazine is of an adult Red-eared Slider Turtle. Although the shape was the result of a 6-pack plastic ring, the photo which appeared in the magazine was ‘staged’ because the original ring was never kept. MDC photographer Jim Rathert gets credit for taking the photograph.
The message that is given to the public is NOT to discourage the purchase of products still using plastic rings. The conservation message is that pollution can affect many animals . . even animals well protected as turtles. We should all handle pollution responsibly and that we often have it within our power to reduce pollution and its devastating effects. Recycling plastic items such as plastic rings are a great start. It has been documented that 6-pack plastic rings can kill fish and waterfowl. When recycling is not an option, rendering the items harmless to wildlife is very important. Plastic rings should be broken apart BEFORE being discarded.