This past weekend was dedicated to Echo Park with friends. As we walked the loop around the lake, and even took a pedal boat out, we saw many interactions between people and animals. My high school friend who was visiting from out-of-town commented about the comfort between people, geese, ducks, and dogs – perhaps alarmingly so – a symptom of close quarters, I guess.
I thought back to our ragtag lunch table, which represented a similarly odd assemblage of individuals. A couple in a hammock swinging between palms traded feeding Cheetos to one another and a friendly goose (in my opinion, an example of misdirected but true romance). Arguably the cutest patrons of the park were the baby geese and turtles. We just couldn’t get enough.
Young red eared slider turtles poked their heads up out of the water while pursuing their algae-covered elders. Individuals that make it through their first year or two can be expected to live around 30+ years. They are the most popular pet turtle in the United Sates and are often considered an invasive species. However at Echo Park, these turtles are considered beloved members of the highly social ecosystem.
The resident turtles are all decedents of pets released into Echo Park Lake. I wondered how the shelled inhabitants handled/survived the park renovation four years ago. After some quick searches online I was unable to find what actually happened to the original turtles. Most articles point to the turtles being dispersed into other lakes in Los Angeles, such as MacArthur Park, to keep locals appeased.
One resident of Echo Park noted that she had been told that the turtles had been adopted, but she had found a number of dead turtles on the site during construction. These amphibians are not always thought of so fondly. In some states like Florida it is illegal to sell the red-eared slider, stemming from concerns about interbreeding with local turtle populations – a courtship frowned frowned upon by many ecologists.
My searches online led me to another odd couple of Echo Park: a gray Toulouse goose named Maria, and a retired salesman named Dominic. Their relationship blossomed prior to the renovation of the park back in 2010. The article mentions that Maria was to be temporarily relocated.
Odd ecologies and odd couples. I do hope Maria and Dominic found each other again.