Bangkok Veterinary Surgeons Save Sea Turtle Removing 915 Coins Lodged in Abdomen
Science & Tech| | By Robin Milling
Throwing coins into a fountain stems back to ancient times where people would toss in a coin sending up a prayer — an early version of a wish — thanking the heavens for drinkable water. That tradition is still considered to bring good luck in many cultures. In Thailand, many believe that throwing coins on turtles will bring them longevity. According to veterinarian Nantarika Chansue — head of Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary medical aquatic animal research center in Bangkok — it is considered “a serious sin” especially when the waters are home to an animal.
This tradition nearly killed a 25-year-old female green sea turtle. She had made a meal of the loose change tourists tossed into her pool over the years in the eastern town of Si Racha. Luckily, she was discovered just in time by staff of the Air and Coastal Defense Command from the Si Racha district in Chonburi. On February 23, they brought the ailing reptile to Chulalongkorn University where Chansue and a team of five surgeons went to work. They took a CT scan and discovered a huge lump of coins that measured seven inches in length and nine inches in width in the stomach of the turtle. The weight of the coins had pressed down on the shell, which cracked in the abdominal area and became infected, causing a life-threatening infection. Chansue and her team rehabilitated the turtle — who they aptly christened with the name “Bank” — to ready it for surgery to remove the huge stack of coins. Concerned donors contributed $428 toward the cost of treatment for the turtle. On March 6, the nearly seven-hour operation was a success as the doctors removed 915 coins from her abdomen weighing 11 pounds. Along with the coins, two fish hooks were also removed. Chansue – who led the surgery — told Associated Press that she was not pleased with how Bank got to them in the first place. She said, “I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle.” Bank is on a strict liquid-only diet for the next two weeks recuperating in Chulalongkorn University’s animal hospital. Chansue took to Facebook to celebrate the news of the successful operation. “Thanks to the navy, to help bring peace to heal and take care of sea turtle conservation to us,” Chansue wrote The post was shared over 3,000 times and received 9,000 likes with congratulatory comments and well wishes for the turtle’s recovery. A green sea turtle is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and has a typical lifespan of around 80 years. At least now with the help of these doctors, Bank’s survival has certainly been enriched.
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