Sunday 19 November 2017

Disabled turtles head for care home

Josie, one of the five green sea turtles, at Heathrow Animal Reception Centre
Josie, one of the five green sea turtles, at Heathrow Animal Reception Centre
Josie, one of the five green sea turtles, at Heathrow Animal Reception Centre

Five severely disabled patients are on the final stage of a 4,700-mile journey to a long-term care home - at a marine park.

The Florida sea turtles, whose injuries range from paraplegia to shells damaged in collisions with boats, have all lost the ability to dive.

They are now set to receive intensive care at a Sea Life park in Dorset, having travelled for 24 hours from their Florida home.

And it has been no simple trip for the reptiles which each weigh 60kg (130lbs) and measure one metre in length. It took 13 people and cost over £20,000 to bring the majestic creatures to the UK.

On Thursday morning they arrived at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, Middlesex, and were going through quarantine before embarking on the road to a purpose-built turtle sanctuary at Weymouth Sea Life Park.

The five green turtles, Chelonia mydas, were all long-term residents of The Turtle Hospital in Florida.

"They needed a new home to free up space for new casualties at the Florida facility," said Sea Life displays supervisor Fiona Smith.

"The extent of their disabilities has forced us to make changes to our ocean tank to make it easier to get them in and out and administer veterinary care," she added.

"They will need a great deal of care and attention, but will also help us inform visitors about the serious hazards these creatures face in the wild, and the reasons why all seven sea turtle species are endangered."

Described as "floaters", the disabled turtles are unable to stay submerged without assistance.

Press Association

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