Peanut is red-eared slider turtle, who became a ‘mascot’ for raising awareness about plastic pollution among wildlife. No, not because she has as six-pack tummy from working out, but because while being young somewhere in the 1980’s, she got caught in a plastic ring from a six-pack that had ended up in her habitat. As she grew, the plastic tightened around her middle and made her shell and body grow in a peculiar peanut shape.
Peanut was found in 1993, at that time about 9-years old, and taken to St. Louis Zoo where staff removed the ring. They also discovered that she had some internal damage to her lungs from the constriction of the ring. She later was handed over to the Missouri Department of Conservation where she became the mascot for the state’s No MOre Trash! litter prevention and clean-up campaign.
Peanut now lives at the Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood and is reportedly doing well. She is now in her 30s, and continues to grow, with the peanut shaped shell a reminder of the damage litter can do. Some reports mention that she cannot survive in the wild, although it remains unclear from reports why that is the case.
As documented in the video (below), Peanut serves as an educational mascot regarding (plastic) waste. I wonder what Peanut herself thinks of the daily attention from visitors and her life in confinement, being gazed at, handled, prodded. Would she have preferred a (perhaps shorter) life free in the swamp? Does her role as an educator and mascot, living in an enclosed environment, outweigh her loss of freedom?
I also wonder how the children’s experience of seeing Peanut, seeing her extraordinary de-formed body, nearly as a kind of ‘freak’, shapes their conception of ‘other than normal’ bodies.
[Video about Peanut the Turtle, video has no subtitles; image preview: young person with blond long hair, dark framed glasses, black sweater, giving an interview, in the back are panels about Autumn and Winter]
Meet Peanut the Turtle , No More Trash, s.d.
Turtle Cut Free From 6-Pack Rings Is Unstoppable 20 Years Later, The Dodo, May 26, 2015.
Video Peanut the Turtle, is from Fox 2 St Louis, March 24, 2014