The Tulsa Zoo announced Friday that Hugo, its alligator snapping turtle, has passed away.
The zoo estimated Hugo was 70-100 years old.
“It was a big loss for us. I remember hearing the news and it was kind of a gut punch because we thought he would live forever. He’s one of those dinosaurs that you think they’re gonna be around forever. Getting to feed him and help take care of him, it was pretty special,” zookeeper Aaron Goodwin said.
Hugo was donated to the Tulsa Zoo in 1989 after a fisherman caught him in Lake Hugo.
In a post on Facebook, the Tulsa Zoo says, “Zoo staff miss Hugo deeply but take comfort knowing he was a great ambassador for his species and many, many zoo guests were able to appreciate and learn about these amazing creatures while he was with us.”
“The number of guests that I had that came through and told me about the times that they saw that same turtle when they were a kid and now they’re bringing their kids to see him. Hugo left a lasting impression on so many people who passed through. He was one of everybody’s big memories here at the Tulsa Zoo,” said zookeeper Ben Kabel.
The zoo said Hugo’s former exhibit will remain empty for the time being.