Celebriturtle: a member of the order Chelonia whose exploits have bestowed a level of prestige and admiration.

Shelly the Eastern box turtle resides in the Nature Discovery Room on the ground floor of the Arboretum’s Education Center. Over the past seven years, she has become a celebrity or “celebriturtle” in the truest sense (of this made up word). To help explain her celebrity status, here are a few things every Shelly fan needs to know:

1.) Shelly really glams up a photo shoot. You can find her gracing the cover of the Kids in Parks Turtle Tales brochure that guides children on an outdoor adventure where they learn about turtles and their environment. She has also been featured in articles in the Asheville Citizen-Times and did an early morning video spot with the crew from WLOS-TV (her handler received a considerable amount of coffee beforehand).

2.) She makes numerous public appearances. These include visits with students at schools and with junior field biologists (participants in the Arboretum’s ecoEXPLORE program) at libraries throughout Western North Carolina. She has also been spotted on the red carpet at several Diamond Brand Outdoors events and the Pink Bed Bioblitz at the Cradle of Forestry on May 20, 2017.

3.) Her fans adore her. If you don’t believe me, watch the delight in kids’ faces as they meet her, touch her shell and see her elegantly devour an entire strawberry.

4.) She’s a real diva. In fact, she’s the driving force behind Box Turtle Day, the Arboretum’s annual event celebrating and educating visitors of all ages about the lives and habitats of box turtles. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shelly has experienced a level of fandom that has surpassed all of the Arboretum’s other educational animals, and has launched an entire day of festivities to celebrate her species. She’s so famous that the first Box Turtle Day was featured in The Los Angeles Times!

Despite all of this notoriety, Shelly is very down to earth. In fact, the underside of her shell rests on the ground most of the time. If you’d like to meet Shelly and learn more about conserving box turtles, be sure to drop by Box Turtle Day this Saturday. And, Shelly is not afraid to share the spotlight. The famous Boykin spaniel Turtle Dogs will be on site to demonstrate their ability to help biologists find box turtles in the forests and fields for scientific study and conservation.

Shelly would be thrilled to have you come by and say hello on her big day.

For more information about the Arboretum’s Box Turtle Day, please click here.