It’s not every day that you come across exotic wildlife in Chicago, but recently, two kayakers had a startling encounter on the Chicago River that left everyone astonished. In a video that has now gone viral, the kayakers spot an enormous creature sunbathing by the river, which turns out to be a giant snapping turtle. The men, with their unmistakable Chicago accents, are amazed by the magnificent sight.
“Take a look at this guy, see how big it is!” one of the kayakers exclaims. “Wow, that’s one massive turtle!” The kayakers refer to it as a “Chicago River snapper.”
The man exclaims, “Check out that beast! Hey there, how ya doin’, guy? You lookin’ good!” The kayakers are impressed with the turtle’s physique, speculating on its diet. One of them notes that it’s “solidly built and robust.” The video, shared on Twitter by Joey Santore, highlights the positive impact of recent efforts to clean up the heavily polluted Chicago River on the local wildlife.
“Great to see this beast thriving here on what was once such a toxic river, but is slowly getting cleaned up & restored,” the man wrote. “Somebody planted a bunch of native plants up the river from here, too. I can only wonder this things been eating.”
The kayakers were awestruck by the stunning turtle, and their excitement was shared by many online. The enormous creature has been dubbed “Chonkosaurus.” Local wildlife experts chimed in, pointing out that despite popular belief, the Chicago River is home to a diverse range of creatures.
Chicago River Snapper aka Chonkosaurus. Great to see this beast thriving here on what was once such a toxic river, but is slowly getting cleaned up & restored. Somebody planted a bunch of native plants up the river from here, too. I can only wonder this things been eating. pic.twitter.com/u6bhlpo4p5
— Joey Santore (@JoeySantore) May 6, 2023
“The river system is brimming with life,” remarked Margaret Frisbie, the Executive Director of Friends of Chicago River. “It’s home to turtles, beavers, muskrats, herons, and nearly 80 species of fish.”
Experts note that while snapping turtles are not uncommon, they are rarely spotted above the surface, and very few reach such an impressive size!
“What is pretty uncommon is a turtle of this size to actually be observed,” Chris Anchor – wildlife biologist with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, told NBC Chicago. “These turtles live on the bottom of the river and, unlike a painted turtle or red-eared slider, which are very commonly seen basking on rocks and whatnot, snapping turtles are almost never seen.”