Zelda, Battery Park’s Wild Turkey, Now 7, Really Old for a Wild Turkey

Zelda the turkey

Zelda the Wild Turkey of Battery Park

Zelda, the famous wild turkey of Battery Park, New York City, is still going after seven years. She was first spotted in upper Manhattan in spring, 2003, then made her way to the southern tip of Manhattan. After many failed attempts, I finally got to see her yesterday. She’s most famous for living in Manhattan but she is becoming a phenomena in the turkey world for her survival.

In the wild, turkeys usually die before they turn two years old. “A four- or five-year-old turkey can compliment itself on its survival capabilities,” North Carolina biologists say. The oldest turkey anybody knows about died at 12 years. Since Zelda was spotted as an adult, she’s at least eight years old. Beloved as she is, she’s like the Betty White of turkeys.

Is Manhattan better turkey habitat than we thought? Certainly, the lack of hunters helps. (Though, th Daily News says Zelda’s friends worry over her near Thanksgiving.) But it could also be Zelda’s good fortune of finding park workers who provide her a balanced diet of chicken feed. Now every time a turkey is spotted in Manhattan, someone thinks it’s her. The Villager reported potential Zelda sighting in Tribeca in 2007. She’s been known to wander streets in the financial district and has been picked up by cops and firemen.

On previous attempts, I looked for Zelda in Battery Park’s the tall, wild grasses. Wrong. She was right out walking on the lawn. Only a few people noticed her, but those who did were excited. The rest were, I guess, distracted by whatever jackass street performers were tormenting people in line for the Statue of Liberty that day.

Turkeys were nearly wiped out by the early 1900s, but came back thanks to transplant introductions. They now live in all states but Alaska, Cornell’s All About Birds says. However, they are sometimes unwelcome, the Donegal Hills neighborhood on Staten Island thinks they’re a menace. But turkeys are still a fun freak show in Manhattan.

Zelda in Battery Park

Zelda in Battery Park

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