Giant Snapping Turtle Dubbed 'Chonkosaurus' Spotted in Chicago River
The video of the giant turtle garnered over 9,000 likes and over 2,000 retweets within a week of being posted
A large snapping turtle dubbed "Chonkosaurus" has gone viral for its massive size and story.
Chicago native Joey Santore captured a video of the turtle, which was lounging on top of a bunch of rusty chains, while kayaking through the Chicago River with his friend, according to NBC News.
In the now-viral video posted on Twitter, Santore spotted the turtle from across the river and zoomed in on the creature with his camera, while exclaiming, "Look at this guy! Look at this, we got a picture of this most beautiful sight!"
"Look at the size of that thing. Oh, my God," he could be heard saying in the video, before telling the turtle, "You look good! I'm real proud of you. You been eating healthy? You ever heard of liquid salad? We've been doing that."
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Alongside the video, he tweeted: "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," he continued. "Somebody planted a bunch of native plants up the river from here, too. I can only wonder [what] this thing's been eating."
The video garnered over 9,000 likes, 2,000 retweets and nearly 600 bookmarks within a week of being posted.
Several people praised the turtle in the tweet's comments, including one person who wrote, "I love Chonkosaurus, our new Chicago icon!"
Several others speculated what the turtle could be eating that made him grow so big, with one person joking that the turtle has just been "eating beef and sausages."
Santore, who also went viral in 2019 for rescuing a coyote in the California countryside, said it was a case of being at the right place at the right time.
"People are used to passing by plants at 70 miles per hour on the freeway. I'm used to people being pretty plant blind," he told NBC News. "When you see a 60-pound snapping turtle that looks like a dinosaur hanging out on … those rusty pylons — I think the whole setting was just so funny."
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Nick Wesley, the executive director of Urban Rivers, told NBC News that the turtle being there was proof that the work of nonprofits and other organizations to reverse the pollution effects of the river was working.
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"The river was historically terribly polluted. Sewage and shipping were the two main uses, but I think we've really turned the page since then," Wesley said. "Our focus has been on habitat and really increasing wildlife, and that's something that I think has been really lacking in our river system."
Snapping turtles typically range in size from 8 to 14 inches, with a record length of 19.3 inches, according to the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. They are usually found throughout eastern North America and inhabit bodies of freshwater.
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