New Name, Who Dis?

Name: Yidaro, formerly Lord Fairfax

Sex: Male

Species: Alligator snapping turtle

Age: Unknown

Weight: 64.9 pounds

Reason for Visit: Entrance Wellness Check

If by some chance you missed the introduction of this international sensation, here’s the backstory. In May 2020, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries reached out to the Virginia Zoo after finding an uncommon animal roaming a neighborhood in Fairfax County, Virginia. Alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles in the world and are native to rivers and streams that lead to the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States. While Virginia has its own native snapping turtle species, this particular individual’s species is not native to our area and was believed to have once been a pet that grew too big, so his owner illegally released him into the wild. He was originally named Lord Fairfax, but Virginia Zoo staff gave him a new name upon his arrival at his permanent home at the Zoo – meet Yidaro, the wandering monster.

Just like all new arrivals at the Zoo, Yidaro is undergoing a routine quarantine period  behind-the-scenes in the Zoo’s Animal Wellness Campus. To assess his overall condition and health, a wellness exam was scheduled immediately after arriving on grounds. During his exam, our animal care team looked over every inch of Yidaro’s body. Radiographs were taken to check for any foreign objects in his GI tract as well as to have a set of baseline images to compare with any radiographs taken in the future. Blood was taken as well for baseline chemistry, complete blood count values and to look for any potential illnesses.

Overall, Yidaro is in good health. He has some mild superficial wounds, which he had when he came to the Zoo, but these are expected to heal with time. Keepers and Vet staff say he has been eating well and is showing off more of his personality and “coming out of his shell”. Staff say he can be feisty when it’s time for a check-up, but Yidaro is a quiet animal that prefers hanging out at the bottom of his pool hiding under logs.

While you may be eager to see Yidaro for yourself, he is currently not visible to the public at this time. In the future, the Zoo hopes to have an exhibit for Yidaro and the Zoo’s two other alligator snapping turtles, a pair of females. Plans are in the works to introduce the trio to each other, but more details are still to be determined – stay tuned!