Top: A video from 2015 showing the turtles in Koh Loy Park’s pond wallowing in filth while the pond is being drained.
RAYONG — Dozens of turtles who lived in the same place Piggy Bank feasted on the coins that would kill her will undergo medical exams next week.
Marine vets are moving to save more than 20 turtles from the same fate as the late giant sea turtle, whose death Tuesday became a national cause. Meanwhile Piggy Bank’s vet Nantarika Chansue said the late sea turtle will be put on display to warn against the dangers of careless coin-throwing.
“Piggy Bank’s death was a waste and a shame. At least now she can raise awareness for not only turtles, but wildlife harmed by eating foreign objects,” said Weerapong Laovetchprasit, a regional marine veterinarian in Rayong province, where the 20-or-so turtles were resting Friday after being rescued from the same artificial moat Piggy Bank was found last month.
Some of the turtles are sick, Weerapong said, likely because they also swallowed coins. In late February, Piggy Bank was singled out for a CT scan by Chulalongkorn University vet Nantarika Chansue because the turtle showed the most visible symptoms.
“That’s our hypothesis, but we will check by X-raying the turtles. Some of the turtles are quite sick, but most are still strong,” Weerapong said.
Piggy Bank and her friends – endangered green sea turtles and critically endangered hawksbill turtles over 20 years old – were rescued by the marine center from Koh Loy Park in Chonburi province.
A video shows visitors throwing coins into Koh Loy Park’s turtle pond in February 2016.
“The turtles lived in cramped conditions in the cement pond, and they only place they could go for shade was a bridge, so they would all squeeze in under it during the daytime,” Chalatip Junchompoo of the Rayong marine life center said.
The 20 reptiles are now swimming at a turtle rehabilitation center on the tiny Koh Mannai, where the regional Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center has its office.
Chula vet Nantarika said she will visit the center next week to check on the two dozen-or-so turtles.
Nantarika and the university’s Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animals Research Center have raised over 1.1 million baht toward the purchase of a portable endoscope they can use in the field to help remove foreign objects from marine animals such as dugongs and turtles.
Piggy Bank gained international fame this month for her plight. She will be stuffed and displayed along with the 915 coins removed from her body as a reminder for people not to harm animals by throwing coins into the water. The location has yet to be decided.
“Our priority is taking care of the 20 turtles now,” Chalatip said.