Sophie the turtle a reptile success story at Ogdensburg Library



Jason Hunter/Watertown Daily Times
Penny Kerfien, executive director of the Ogdensburg Public Library, holds Sophie Gertrude, a red-eared slider turtle, Wednesday at the library. The turtle has been living in the library for the past few months.


OGDENSBURG — She’s not a teenager, or a mask-wearing ninja, but the turtle wandering the aisles of the Ogdensburg Library these days has become a huge hit with the public.

The turtle, officially known as a large red-eared slider, was adopted by the library after an animal rehabilitator rescued the pet from a home where it was not being properly cared for.

Named Sophie Gertrude by staff, the 20-year-old reptile has quickly become an endearing fixture at the public library and an overnight favorite with patrons.

“She’s a library success story,” said Executive Director Penny J. Kerfien. “We just had some people drive up from Clayton and Cape Vincent today just so they could see the turtle.”

Ms. Kerfien said the Ogdensburg library acquired the turtle after the animal was rescued from a home between Winthrop and Massena. She said when first brought to the library it was in noticeably poor shape and suffering from a lack of attention.

“She was very overweight, was living in a tank full of water to the top, and had no way to get out of the water to rest,” Ms. Kerfien said. “Since we brought her here she has slimmed down a lot.”

Sophie’s tank now includes stepping-stone stairs made of bricks that allows her to climb out of the water and then bask in the warmth of a sunlamp perched a safe distance above her head. Her diet, once severely neglected, now includes fresh lettuce, apples and blueberries.

Ms. Kerfien said at her last home, the turtle did not have a nutritious diet and was being fed cat food. She said that poor diet likely played a role in the animal’s unhealthy and bloated look.

“She looks so much better and has become more active since we got her in December,” Ms. Kerfien said.

In addition to living in a spruced-up aquarium, Sophie also has the luxury of being taken daily out of her tank and allowed to speed her way around the library and between book stacks for exercise.

“Do not believe for a minute that story about the tortoise and the hare,” Ms. Kerfien quipped. “From the point of view of the one who chases her, I can tell you that turtles are not at all slow.”

And in addition to being a healthier and happier animal, Ms. Kerfien said the turtle’s presence at the library has had an unexpected positive attitude on the library’s patrons.

“People just love her,” Ms. Kerfien said. “The kids come in and the first place they go is over to the aquarium to see how Sophie is doing. And the adults, too. Many of them come and sit at the table near her and just sit and watch and read.”


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