'Feral turtles' prank tricks Nutter press secretary for April Fools'

ROLAND WEIHRAUCH / ASSOCIATED PRESS
ROLAND WEIHRAUCH / ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted: April 03, 2014

TRICKSTERS within Mayor Nutter's office of communications teamed up to prank his press secretary for April Fools' yesterday, with members of the City Hall press corps in on it.

"Mayor Michael A. Nutter and City officials outlined an action plan to address the dramatic increase in feral turtles along the Schuylkill River," the "official" news release read.

Before its issuance at midday, Nutter's staff tipped off the media to the spoof.

Some reporters played along in the second-floor hallway outside the mayor’s office to “cover” Nutter’s comments and watch him “demand an explanation” from press secretary Mark McDonald as to why the feral turtles were an issue.

A good sport, McDonald said "there was a bit of a tell at the end [of the charade] when [Nutter] made reference to putting sherry into the waters where the turtles were . . . as in turtle soup."

To even a trained eye, the news release appeared convincing.

The Mayor's Office announced that because of the severe winter weather with frequent flooding, indigenous turtle populations had increased nearly sixfold in the Philadelphia region. An animal-control team was working with the Parks and Recreation Department on mitigating the situation. The release cautioned residents to beware of snapping turtles in public spaces, of endangered turtles being struck by vehicles and of the illegal harboring of injured or feral turtles by compassionate citizens.

"It was a moment of levity on an otherwise busy day of budget hearings," McDonald said.


On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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