Peanut the Turtle is turning 38, and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is throwing her a birthday celebration. The birthday partying takes place at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center Saturday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. It’s a free event and open to all ages.
Peanut the Turtle has attracted attention all over Missouri, along with national and worldwide fame, as an anti-littering mascot. At a young age, the red-eared slider wandered into a discarded plastic six-pack ring, and it stuck around her shell. As her shell grew, it was constricted by the plastic ring and developed an unusual, figure-eight shape. In 1993, when she was about nine years old, she was found in the St. Louis area and brought to the Saint Louis Zoo, where the ring was removed.
They named her Peanut because of her shell’s shape and gave her to staff at MDC. Peanut has been under the care of MDC since, where she has served as a popular ambassador for litter awareness. Peanut’s permanent home is now at the nature center.
In the spirit of Peanut’s message, participants can help with litter pickups in and around Powder Valley during her birthday celebration event. “We’ll provide MoDOT NoMOre trash bags for participants, and for each bag of trash they collect, they can enter a raffle to win prizes,” said MDC Naturalist Shelly Colatskie. She added that participants can also qualify for the raffle by sending photos of themselves picking up litter at other places in the area.
The nature center will also serve birthday cake in honor of Peanut’s big day. Educational programs will help make visitors aware of the environmental challenges that plastics pose and inform them about ways they can help prevent Peanut’s fate from happening to other wildlife. Activities will also include information on Missouri Stream Teams, crafts, a chance to see live animals, and meet and greet Peanut herself.
Peanut’s 38th Birthday Celebration is free, but MDC asks visitors to preregister online at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/4pm.