Unveiling the Viral Sensation: The Enigmatic Tale of ‘Chonkosaurus,’ the Gigantic Turtle Captivating Social Media

The giant snapping turtle “Chonkosaurus” – discovered on the Chicago River, Illinois on May 5 – has attracted the attention of thousands of people on social networks.


While kayaking on the Chicago River on May 5, Joey Santore and Al Scorch captured the image of a chubby snapping turtle clinging to a pile of rusty chains floating in the river.

They were fascinated by the wrinkled and stubby legs, as well as the shell that barely covered the animal’s huge body.

“We were just going out and surveying the plants that grow along the river – what grows naturally in this heavily and often polluted environment. Then we saw a bunch of native turtles,” Mr Santore told ABC .

Even from a distance, the turtle still looks huge.

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Giant snapping turtle “Chonkosaurus” – discovered on the Chicago River on May 5. Photo: Joey Santore.

“Look at its size!”, Mr. Santore exclaimed in a video shared on Twitter.

Mr. Santore’s friend – Al Scorch – later named this giant turtle “Chonkosaurus”.

Attract attention

Thousands of people have expressed admiration for Chonkosaurus on Twitter, praising the sturdy turtle and those who discovered it. Mr. Santore’s video quickly attracted more than 700,000 views.

In an interview, Mr. Santore, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, said he and his friends paddled the river on May 5 to film a video for his YouTube channel to educate viewers about ecology. .

“My followers love the combination of skeptical commentary in a Chicago accent and educational content about plants,” he says.

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YouTuber Joey Santore (left) and Al Scorch on a kayak in the Chicago River. Photo: Joey Santore.

At first, Mr. Santore and Mr. Scorch did not clearly see what was sitting on the water and decided to row closer.

“It was very fat, its legs were sticking out, it looked like a big sandbag,” Mr. Santore recalled.

The size of this turtle made many users on social networks ask: What did it eat?

Some speculate very simply that Chonkosaurus ate whatever it liked. Another person guessed it was beef and sausage, while another alluded to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” and guessed its food was pizza.

Perhaps the most valuable opinion comes from those who discovered this animal.

“My God, you look great!”, Mr. Santore said to the turtle. “I’m really proud of you. Did you eat healthy?

Mr. Scorch also said that Chonkosaurus was “fat but strong”.

Meanwhile, Chris Anchor, wildlife biologist for the Cook County Forest Preserve District, said Chonkosaurus was female and most likely “carrying many eggs.”

On the day it was discovered on the Chicago River, Chonkosaurus may have tried to cling to the chains because it wanted to warm up and help the eggs mature quickly. The turtle is probably about 50 years old and has finished hibernating, Mr. Anchor added.

“Long Live Chonkosaurus”

Despite describing Chonkosaurus as “huge”, Mr Anchor said the turtle was not one of the largest he had ever seen. The Cook County biologist encounters about 300-500 turtles each year in the course of his work. According to him, this animal can weigh up to 27 kg.

Mr. Anchor could not calculate accurately through the video, but guessed that Chonkosaurus weighed about 18 kg.

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Images of Chonkosaurus attracted attention on social networks. Photo: AP .

Phil Nicodemus, research director for Urban Rivers, a nonprofit with a mission to turn urban waterways into wildlife sanctuaries, also said he has seen large turtles near the area. over the past few years.

However, it is interesting to see public enthusiasm for wildlife like this one.

“People who live near (this area) sometimes don’t even realize the creatures are right there. So this is exactly what we want to see,” he told ABC .

But what’s more notable is that the video highlights the condition of the Chicago River and surrounding area. In the 1960s, Mr. Anchor recalls, “the river was like an open sewer” that contained only a few fish species and no recreational kayaking.

However, after the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, Chicago River water quality improved significantly. Currently, the river has about 30 species of fish and people also enjoy activities on the water.

“That was something that couldn’t have happened 40 years ago. But now, more and more eyes are turning to the river, discovering things that no one noticed before,” Mr. Anchor said.

It’s hard to say exactly what Chonkosaurus put in its stomach. Large snapping turtles are often rumored to be able to grab ducks in rivers, drag them down and tear them apart in murky waters. In particular, giant snapping turtles are also capable of attacking deer or raccoons with their claws.

Obviously Chonkosaurus’s food source remains a mystery, but that hasn’t stopped the praise and admiration on social media.

One Twitter user encapsulated these feelings in a comment: “Long live Chonkosaurus.”

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