When New Yorkers mention wild turkey these days they’re not referring to Kentucky bourbon. They’re talking about Zelda.

The Thanksgiving season seems the right time to tell a story about a brave bird who has defied the odds of survival and mesmerized the city with her avian allure.

No one knows exactly where this female wild turkey came from when she was spotted trotting
into Manhattan about five years ago and decided to stay in Battery Park at the southern tip of the island.

Zelda is not exactly a homebody.: she likes to walk around and has been spotted to the north in Greenwich Village and tony Tribeca. Because of her incessant outings, she was named Zelda, after novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife who was said to wander the city during her various nervous breakdowns.

Zelda the turkey doesn’t seem to care much about her new name.

“Some people have even questioned her mental state because she has a desire to live in such a strange environment. She’s a different turkey,” said Sarah Aucoin, director of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation’s Urban Park Rangers.

“We saw a wild turkey passing in the street … she was kind of crossing the street,” said Auritt, who was strolling with her sister near Battery Park last June.

“I thought, ‘Why is there a turkey here?’ … I was confused but more concerned for this turkey’s life. At first I thought it was someone’s pet or that it had escaped from a zoo,” said Auritt.

“We believe she leaves Battery Park to look for a mate, or another turkey to …gobble with? She always returns,” said Aucoin, whose rangers keep tabs on Zelda’s love life, or shall we say the lack of it!

That doesn’t stop Zelda from laying eggs that will never hatch. Sympathetic park rangers take awaye the unfertilized eggs to preserve Zelda’s life.

Zelda doesn’t seem to be upset by the removal of her eggs, Aucoin said, because only about 30 percent of wild turkey chicks survive infancy.

Zelda may be alone, but there are more wild turkeys than ever in the Northeast, where they nearly were eradicated in the mid-19th Century as their forest habitats gave way to farmland.

Majestic in richly colored plumage, the wild turkey was Benjamin Franklin’s first choice as America’s national bird.

The Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and a true original Native of America! John James Audubon chose the wild turkey as the first image he painted for his so-called Elephant Folio of “Birds in America” in 1826.

With the economy tanking, is there any danger that someone may want to have Zelda for Thanksgiving dinner, and we don’t mean as a guest? The experts doubt it.

“There is something connecting about the turkey,” Phillips said. “It is one of the only domesticated animals that is from North America.”
And when you begin to give a name to an animal, it is very difficult to think about it as the next meal of the family!
Long live Zelda, our New-York free wild turkey!