At 62 and after two decades of schlepping her little friends to schools and libraries throughout Ohio, Nancy Lockard -- aka The Turtle Lady -- admits she's feeling her years.
However, before an appearance June 20 in the Northern Lights Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the northwest Columbus resident said each visit with children to educate them about turtles, lizards, snakes and other creatures in her menagerie still brings her great joy.
"I can never give this up," Lockard said. "I'm going to die The Old Turtle Lady."
That moniker would be fitting because, according to Lockard's website, she was once The Little Turtle Girl after finding and falling in love with Tutu, a box turtle that had been run over by a car.
"There were no turtle doctors in the early '60s so she used Vaseline, Band-Aids and lots of little girl prayers to heal the creature," according to the website. The turtle survived and became "Turtle Girl's' best friend."
In opening her program for several dozen enthusiastic boys and girls at the library, the ever-cheerful and enthusiastic Turtle Lady asked the audience to guess what she loved.
"Turtles!" was the shouted reply.
"Kids," was the correct answer Lockard told them. "I like you guys better than anything in the world."
The first turtle Lockard showed the audience was Sam, who flapped his legs in response to her stroking his shell, much to the amusement of the young people.
Stinky Alex, a turtle that "makes a horrible smell when he's afraid" was followed by Kevin the chameleon, capable of looking in two different directions at the same time. He gave way to Chester the bearded dragon.
A highlight of every appearance, Lockard said, is when she brings out her toads.
After letting the audience look at the amphibians and educating them about the creatures, Lockard sought to be put them back in their plastic container, but she wasn't quite fast enough -- on purpose.
First one toad and then the other leaped out of the box to shrieks, laughter and a modicum of alarm, from her young audience.
For more information about Lockard's presentations, visit turtleladynancy.com.