Rescued Keys Turtle Flies To Swim In New Vegas Home

FLORIDA KEYS (CBSMiami) – Found weak and floating on his side in the waters off the Keys, OD the green sea turtle was rescued and rehabilitated for almost five years and is now living it up in his new home in Las Vegas.

The 320-pound endangered sea turtle, named OD for the Key Largo charter boat that rescued him in 2008, took off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Thursday via FedEx and arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada Thursday afternoon.

The turtle, believed to be about 50-years-old, was transported alongside two of his caretakers from the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital, where he spent the years since his rescue until Thursday.

OD, due to an irreparable collapsed lung, can’t be released in the wild.

SLIDESHOW: OD’s Turtle Trek To Vegas

“He can’t function in the wild because he floats, the good lung overcompensates and he floats to one side,” said Turtle Hospital Manager Bette Zirkelbach who, along with the hospital’s founder Richie Moretti, will travel with the turtle to monitor his condition.

It wasn’t until recently that OD’s caretakers at the Turtle Hospital began trying to find him a new home with a more stimulating environment to ensure a lifestyle suited for his survival.

Thanks to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, who responded to the Turtle Hospital’s call, OD will spend his “retirement” at the resort’s 1.3-million-gallon aquarium.

“He’s ready now for a forever home,” said Turtle Hospital Manager Bette Zirkelbach who, along with the hospital’s founder Richie Moretti, will travel with the turtle to monitor his condition.’’

“This is going to be lot bigger tank with a lot more excitement,” said Moretti. “There’s going to be coral, there’s going be other turtles and fish, this is going to be a great home.”

OD will have to be quarantined for a standard of 45-days before he can swim in his new aquatic-home along with other cared-for marine animals—including sea turtles.

In his new home, OD will also provide a resource for the aquarium’s visitors to be better educated about endangered green sea turtles.

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