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Gumbo the Turtle Saved From Crawfish Boil at Toons Bar

By  Kyla Gardner and Jackie Kostek | April 17, 2014 7:30am 

Lincoln Park Morning Report
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DNAinfo/Jackie Kostek

LINCOLN PARK — Gumbo the tiny turtle made it out of the frying pan — and into the nature museum.

The Mississippi mud turtle narrowly escaped being thrown into a crawfish boil at a Wrigleyville bar in late February, and he now has a new home at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.

Staff at Toons Bar and Grill, 3857 N. Southport Ave., were rinsing off hundreds of pounds of crawfish in tubs for a Mardi Gras-themed feast when they noticed the stowaway. Gumbo swam to the surface of the water and was plucked out.

Kyla Gardner sits down with DNAinfo Radio to chat about Gumbo the turtle:

The turtle made the journey all the way from Louisiana with the live crustaceans.

"That’s pretty wild that he flew up on the plane," Toons owner Danny Beck said.

 Gumbo the turtle was rescued from certain death by staff at Toons Bar and Grill in Wrigleyville after he rode into town with hundreds of pounds of crawfish from Louisiana for one of the bar's crawfish boils.
Gumbo the Turtle
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After briefly relaxing on the Toons bar with some Mardi Gras beads and a beer after his near-death experience, Gumbo was placed under a lamp in a plastic container with some water and lettuce.

Staff at the bar at whipped out their smartphones to look up what kind of turtle he was.

"It was quite the scene," Beck said. "We had quite the fan club right out of the gate."

One of those fans was Beck's 6-year-old daughter Olivia, who readily accepted Gumbo at their home while they figured out what to do next.

"I called over to the nature museum and said, 'This is what we've got. My kid already has a fish and a cat, so do you want this turtle?'" Beck said.

The museum often gets calls about animals, but isn't in the habit of taking them in, said Celeste Troon, director of living collections. But Gumbo's species, which can also be found in southern Illinois, was new to the museum's collection.

Troon said Gumbo was adapting well to his new life, but, naturally, he's taking it slow.

"He's a little shy," Troon said. "He spends most of his time hiding out in a weed or under a rock, but he's eating well. Everything that gets put in front of him, he's chowing down."

It's a happy ending for the Louisiana-born traveler.

"He's obviously not lost his appetite amongst all this trauma," Troon said.

And as for Gumbo's cross-country traveling companions? The crawfish boil must go on.

Gumbo "got lucky. That's for sure," Beck said. "His 500 or 600 pounds of crawfish buddies didn’t make it out so well."