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Sea Turtle Named ‘Piggy Bank’ Discovered With 915 Coins in Its Belly

Mar 07, 2017 05:03 AM EST
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There's a superstition in Thailand that says throwing coins in a turtle pond would prevent bad luck -- except for the turtles in the pond, that is.

One of the 26 turtles relocated from a pond in the Sri Racha district to the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre of the Royal Thai Navy in the Sattahip district is Om Sin, according to a report from Bangkok Post. Her name translates directly to "piggy bank." Why?

The 25-year-old female turtle was sent to Chulalongkorn University last month for barely swimming and suffering from chronic stomach ache. Upon taking a CT scan, the veterinarians immediately saw the problem: a huge mound of coins in Piggy Bank's stomach.

"It is hard to imagine how it swallowed such a large number of coins. I've never seen such a case before," Pasakorn Brikshavana of Chulalongkorn University's faculty of veterinary science said.

Surgery on the sea turtle took seven hours, the operating time taking longer because of the huge volume of coins that ended up needing a bigger cut than originally expected. Half of the time, the surgeons were just scooping out foreign and local coins from Piggy Bank's stomach.

All the change, accummulated over years in the pond, weighed about 5 kilograms. This weight cracked Piggy Bank's ventral shell and eventually led to a life-threatening infection, a report from The Guardian revealed.

Vets say the surgery went well and the turtle is expected to recover. Piggy Bank will stay in the university's animal hospital and remain on a liquid diet for at least the next two weeks.

Hopefully, the turtle's plight -- who the public raised money for in the past month -- will lead to less coins being thrown in turtle ponds in the name of luck.

Nantarika Chansue, head of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary medical aquatic animal research centre, was dismayed upon learning of the animal's condition. 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."

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