Albert Laessle was the son of German immigrants who settled in Philadelphia in the 1850s. He may have come by his artistic skill from his father, who was a wood-carver by trade. Laessle attended the PennsylvaniaAcademy of the Fine Arts in 1901, where he studied under Charles Grafly. He was inspired to sculpt animals after observing a snapping turtle that had been brought to the studio for Grafly’s dinner. Laessle was so fascinated by the turtle that he convinced Grafly not to kill it until after he had studied it.