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Battery Park's Resident Turkey Draws Crowds on Eve of Thanksgiving

By Julie Shapiro | November 24, 2010 2:46pm

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Zelda the turkey has much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

For one thing, she continues to be just another member of Battery Park's wildlife and not the main course on somebody's Thanksgiving menu. For another, she is aging gracefully, her feathers still gleaming red and blue even as her gullet grays.

Zelda first appeared in Battery Park in 2003, when the new Gardens of Remembrance opened, said Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy.

"She's always been there ever since," Price said. "She's a little survivor."

Battery Park's most famous resident was in full turkey form Wednesday morning as she swept across the park's lawns and paths, drawing crowds and exclamations wherever she spread her tail feathers.

"Look! A turkey!" cried students from the New Heights Academy Charter School, who were on a field trip to Battery Park.

"It's really big and colorful," said John Bueno, 10, licking his lips. "I want to kill it and eat it."

If Zelda heard, she didn't seem concerned. She marched past the children as their teachers pulled out smart phones to snap pictures.

Ellen Dryden, 45, laughed as her three children chased Zelda to get a closer look.

"Of all the things I thought we'd see in New York, I never thought we'd see a turkey," said Dryden, who is visiting from Minnesota.

Students from the nearby Leadership and Public Service High School were also surprised.

"It's cool to have animals here," said Selena Peruciel, a ninth grader from Queens.

"Looks yummy!" added Ana Flores, 14, from Brooklyn.

Most turkeys don't live past 6 years old, Price said, and while she does not know Zelda's age, it's safe to assume that the bird's getting near the end of her life.

The conservancy named Zelda after the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, because she, too, was found wandering the park, supposedly after a nervous breakdown.

Unlike that Zelda, though, Battery Park's turkey has never had any children.

"We've never seen her paired with anyone else," Price said. "Since she has laid eggs, none have ever been fertilized."

Someone once suggested to Price that the conservancy help Zelda find a mate, but Price said she has enough to do without matchmaking the park's wildlife.

"I said our plate is a little full already," Price said with a laugh. "We do love her very much, though."