Zelda (turkey)

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Zelda in The Battery
Zelda in The Battery
Zelda in the Battery, June 2014.
Zelda in Battery Park, June 2014.

Zelda was a female wild turkey that lived in New York City's The Battery between mid-2003 and c. September 26, 2014. Although flocks of wild turkeys are more common in the city's greener parts (including the Bronx's Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortlandt Park and Staten Island's South Beach Psychiatric Hospital) due to the ban on hunting,[1] Zelda was believed to be the only one in Manhattan. Previous Manhattan turkeys included Giuliani (at Riverside Park;[2] this turkey may have actually been Zelda due to her appearance coinciding with Zelda's migration) and Hedda Gobbler (at Morningside Park).[1]

Life and death[edit]

Zelda was named after Zelda Fitzgerald, because (according to legend) during one of Zelda Fitzgerald's nervous breakdowns, she went missing and was found in The Battery, apparently having walked several miles downtown.[3] It is presumed that she entered Manhattan's north end from the Bronx in 2002[4] as a wild turkey fitting her description was first spotted in Riverside Park and then near the American Museum of Natural History and Tavern on the Green.[1] She continued to make her way downtown before finally settling in Battery Park.[5]

She occasionally wandered from the park, possibly in search of a mate.[4] Each summer she left the park to nest and lay unfertilized eggs.[6] In 2004 she was seen in Tribeca before being captured and returned to Battery Park.[7][8] In 2007 a turkey, presumably Zelda, was spotted in Greenwich Village and Tribeca.[9] She spent the summer of 2013 in nearby Battery Park City.[6]

In 2006 and again in 2009, she garnered wider attention when some tourists began to fear for her safety around Thanksgiving.[10] In 2012, she again drew attention when it was realized that she survived Hurricane Sandy after having been missing for five days.[11] While most wild turkeys only live to be six years old, Zelda was at least ten.[6]

On October 9, 2014, it was announced that Zelda had been found dead during the previous week, following an automobile collision.[12]


Giuliani is the name given to a female wild turkey spotted in Riverside Park, who may have actually have been Zelda. A wild turkey was spotted in Riverside Park (adjacent to the North/Hudson River) as early as 2003, and wild turkeys have been reported there since.[2][13] New Yorkers who frequent the park have taken to calling the turkeys they see there Giuliani, after Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City.


  1. ^ a b c Buckley, Cara (2006-11-24). "A Kinder, Gentler Way of Stuffing a Turkey". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  2. ^ a b Healy, Patrick (2003-11-24). "Hands Off Bird, and Don't Even Utter Cranberry Sauce". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  3. ^ Carlson, Jen (October 30, 2012). "Zelda, The Wild Turkey Of Battery Park, Survived The Storm". Gothamist. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Answers About Wildlife, Part 2". The New York Times. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  5. ^ Lueck, Thomas J. (May 23, 2003). "A Feathered Stray, Far From Field and Stream; Can a Wild Turkey Find Success and Happiness in the Canyons of Manhattan?". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Plagianos, Irene (2013-09-04). "Battery Park's Resident Turkey Returns Home After Annual Summer 'Vacation'". DNAinfo. Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  7. ^ Saul, Michael (April 12, 2004). "Turkey Trots to Tribeca; Flighty Zelda Leads Bravest and Finest on Wild Goose Chase". Daily News (New York). Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ Chung, Jen (April 12, 2004). "Downtown is Turkey Town". Gothamist. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ Mann, Lucas (June 6, 2007). "A shot of wild turkey in the Village; Was it Zelda?". The Villager. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ Sandoval, Edgar (2009-11-22). "Zelda the wild turkey roams Battery Park for six years, becomes holiday tourist attraction". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  11. ^ Colvin, Jill (2012-11-22). "Battery Park Turkey Survives Hurricane Sandy and Another Thanksgiving". DNAinfo. Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-01. 
  12. ^ "Zelda, Battery Park's resident wild turkey, dies after being hit by car". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  13. ^ Chung, Jen (2003-11-29). "Gobble Gobble at Riverside Park". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2008-11-22. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 

Further reading[edit]