Apollo 14’s stowaway turtle; dead at age 41
January 8, 2010 3 Comments
The National Reporter
Moonie the box turtle who became an over night celebrity in february 1971 when he was discovered hiding aboard the Apollo 14 lunar lander, passed away yesterday at the San Antonio zoo.
He was 41.
Moonie became an international phenomenom in 1971 when he was discovered hiding inside the lunar landers food compartment.
The famous image of Moonie floating in front of Alan Shepard became an over night boom to tee shirt manufacturors world wide and pet stores couldn’t keep up with the demand for box turtles.
Toy companys rushed in to cash in on “Turtlemania” with items such as Mr. Turtle pool.
In 1987 three people were arrested when they tried to kidnap Moonie.
Police found a ransome note on one of the suspects where they were going to demand one million dollars for his return.
All three suspects were convicted of attempted extortion and served eight years in federal prison.
The staff at the San Antonio zoo were deeply sadened by the loss of their long time friend.
“I can’t believe Moonie is gone.” Sniffed a teary eyed Thelma Tinkerton. “He has been a part of this zoo ever since I was a little girl. I still remember my folks bringing me here to see him right after he came back from the moon. I remember the long lines of excited people waiting to see the first turtle on the moon. He was the main reason why I applied for a job here at the zoo.”
Even though Moonie’s unplanned trip to the moon four decades ago is a forgotten piece of history today, Moonie will live on in the hearts of the people who remember his famous trip.
He will be buried in the zoo’s animal cemetary along side of other notable denizens of the wild kingdom underneith a granite stone with a bronze plaque thanks to funds from NASA and the good people of San Antonio.
God speed Moonie, we will miss you.
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