Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists have captured the largest turtle ever in the history of the program: a 62-pound alligator snapping turtle.
The turtle was found during a three-day management effort to remove non-native turtles from a Papago Park pond near the entrance of the Phoenix Zoo. The large turtle is nearly double the weight of the previous record holder, a 31.5 pound common snapping turtle, according to a Game and Fish statement.
The alligator snapping turtle was taken to the Phoenix Herpetological Society where it will remain in captivity. It is native to the southeastern region.
It was not part of the zoo's exhibits. Cristina Jones, a turtles project coordinator, said this is a reminder how important it is not to release non-native species into the wild.
"Not only is this animal considered restricted wildlife, a turtle of this kind and size is capable of significantly impacting the native species living in the pond by out-competing them and preying on native turtles and fish," Jones said.