Like all of the other water bodies in Central Park, Turtle Pond is man-made, filled with New York City drinking water. It is the home to five species of turtles who live in the Pond year round. It is said that many of these turtles started out as pets in city apartments, but eventually outgrew their urban accommodations, and were brought to the Park by their former owners. The most common species in Turtle Pond is the Red-Eared Slider, which you can identify by the small red spots around their ears. They love basking in the sun on flat logs or rocks, which makes the base of Vista Rock the perfect spot for their sun bathing activities. When the sliders are provoked, they quickly slide back into the cool waters of the Pond. Turtle Pond has the distinction of being the most recent water body added to the Park's design.
In 1937, the receiving reservoir of the old Croton Water System was filled in to become the Great Lawn, and only a small hard-edged pond was left as a reminder of the once-vast reservoir. Restored by the Central Park Conservancy in 1998, the Pond was reconfigured to a more naturalistic shape and a nature blind was added to the Pond's northern shore, so Park visitors could quietly observe the Pond's wildlife without interfering with their natural habitats. The beautiful aquatic plants on the shoreline provide a habitat for birds, dragon and damselflies, and, of course, all those turtles!