Knowing that it was finally party day, Robby woke up early on Saturday. After thoroughly debating on the appropriate gift for a 100 year old turtle, Robby and I agreed that romaine lettuce would be perfect. I have to admit that I pushed this option primarily because I knew we had it in the refrigerator. I wasn't terribly keen on shopping for a turtle present at 7:00 on a Saturday morning! In lieu of gift wrap we tied some carrot greens around the bundle and created a make-shift bow. With our gift ready, we piled into the car and headed to the Animal Park for the party.
Robby was all giggles during the drive, chatting about Jethro's birthday as well as the invitation's promise of games and cupcakes. Eager to give the Birthday Tortoise his gift, Robby and Scott sprinted to the entrance gate, leaving me to gather the camera, water bottles and passes. As I finally made my way towards the entrance, I heard Robby squeal with delight. He came running towards me, grabbed my hand and excitedly pulled me towards the hole in the fence. I peeked through and saw that Jethro was sporting a birthday hat for the special day.
The Zoo Keeper gave Robby a birthday hat to wear (yellow of course) and let him into the pen so that he could give Jethro his gift. Robby was proud as he could be giving the imposingly large tortoise the carrot wrapped lettuce. To his delight Jethro immediately began munching. After singing Happy Birthday we headed over to place our bets for the turtle races. Robby and I decided to cover our bases, so he picked Speedy (the small turtle) and I picked Zippy (the larger turtle). We figured that either way we would win.
The "track" was approximately four feet long, with the lanes separated by a piece of wood. There was a crowd of at least 50 people when the turtle race began. Robby wiggled his way to the front and assumed his position next to Speedy's lane. As soon as the flag waved he began to enthusiastically cheer for his little reptilian friend. I just love his unabashed enthusiasm!
Fast forward 45 minutes and the turtles were still "racing." The crowded whittled down to Robby, Scott, me, and the Zoo Keeper, who seemed to be second thinking the turtle race activity. Undeterred, Robby was still encouraging and rooting on Speedy (who was the surefire winner since Zippy had crawled into his shell and had fallen asleep about a foot from the start line.) Anxious to put the race in the record books, and sensing that she was not going to be able to just pick up the turtles without declaring a clear winner, the Zoo Keeper moved and baited the finish line with a chunk of watermelon. In case you are wondering, Speedy won the race after traversing a distance of 3 feet in a mere 55 minutes.
We spent the next hour visiting all of our animal friends and playing on the playground. Although there was a large turn out for the birthday celebration, I doubt anybody was more excited than Robby. After all, you can't go wrong with turtles and cupcakes!