A turtle’s journey home

A favorite of Aquarium visitors, our juvenile loggerhead turtle is winging its way home to the ocean!

Recent visitors to our Open Sea gallery have met this beautiful little loggerhead turtle. Rescued on the shores of North Carolina, the turtle’s spent the last year growing in our exhibit and is now ready to return to the ocean!

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores loans rescued turtles to aquariums around the country as a way to share the story of this endangered species, while the youngsters grow large enough for release. In the wild, loggerheads migrate long distances, so they’re particularly vulnerable to accidental capture by commercial fisheries. The turtles can become caught in shrimp trawler nets or entangled in longlines.

A year ago, the tiny turtle weighed less than half a pound and was just over four inches long! 

Last week the turtle got his pre-flight health check with our veterinarian, Dr. Mike Murray, and was cleared for travel. Early this morning husbandry staffers Jonelle Verdugo and Alan Young picked him up from the Aquarium, tucked him carefully into his turtle traveling case, and headed for the airport.

Baby loggerheads have been fostered at a dozen aquariums and zoos around the country. This week they return to North Carolina to be released into the wild.

Right now our turtle and his aquarist escorts are soaring across the sky on their way to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. When they arrive, they’ll join dozens of other foster turtles and staffers–a herd of traveling turtles! The turtles will be outfitted with satellite tracking devices and released into the ocean later this week.

Happy travels, little guy!

Stay tuned for more this week as we document the journey home for our traveling turtle.  

Happy National Zoo Keeper Week to everyone out there who has dedicated their career to serving and protecting our animal friends!  Take a moment this week to thank an animal care professional, because we mostly spend the other 51 weeks of the year working behind the scenes with no fanfare, and we’re happy to do it – but everyone likes to feel appreciated. :)

From the AAZK Website:

“What is National Zoo Keeper Week?

As the need to protect and preserve wildlife and their vanishing habitats continues to increase, the animal care professional’s role as educators and conservation ambassadors has become essential. Zoo and aquarium professionals care for hundreds of species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.

Three hundred and sixty five days a year, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, in all weather (from hurricanes, to blizzards, to heat waves, and everything in between), keepers have to be ready for anything. They are involved in captive animals’ lives and welfare from birth to death and every moment in between, and often create life long bonds. A keeper’s day can include an array of tasks including cleaning, food preparation and feed out, medical treatment, training, enrichment, landscaping, exhibit design, animal introductions, public outreach and education, and much MUCH more.

Most animal care professionals have bachelor degrees or higher, many with advanced degrees, and continue to advance their education by attending workshops, conferences, and certificate programs annually. They are not just skilled laborers, but professionals who continue to expand their knowledge of an ever advancing field. Working with animals requires constant complex problem solving and progressive learning. Beyond their daily duties, keepers are involved in research projects, field work, and conservation organizations. And yet – most do not earn more than minimum wage, and some even work second jobs.

But, in the end, being a zoo keeper, aquarist, aviculturist – whatever you call it, they’re all animal care professionals, and it is more than just a job. It’s a career, it’s a passion, it’s a calling.

THAT’S why we recognize zoo keepers year round, and THAT’S why we have a week dedicated to promoting their skills, dedication, and enthusiasm for wildlife to the world. Join AAZK every third week in July, to celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week!”
Real Tragedy of Taiji Is Our Inhumanity Toward Animals

“It required many centuries for human societies to recognize that other people had rights, and extending some kinds of rights—at a minimum, not being kept in captivity or used in biomedical research—to other animals is an even greater challenge.”

Mani, a baby Goodfellow’s Tree kangaroo, in the pouch of her mother. The joey was born at Canberra’s National Zoo and Aquarium in September 2013 and is it their first joey born in captivity.