This rare loggerhead turtle was first spotted in Kaikoura – washed up on the beach, severely wounded and in need of help.

A kind and concerned member of the public did what all kiwis should do when they spot wildlife in need, instead of approaching this sea turtle they contacted our partners at the Department of Conservation (DOC) via the hotline (0800 DOC HOT) and alerted them of the situation.

DOC then arranged to fly the turtle to our Vet Hospital. The turtle was severely ill due to an open wound on the right flipper and it was also covered in barnacles which is common in sea turtles secondary to them being very unwell (and having a reduced immune system). The vet team assessed the sea turtle and initially cared for it in a fresh water system. The fresh water help with rehydration and also kills the barnacles, causing them to drop off, which is also important for accurate radiograph (X-ray) interpretation. 

After 22 days of treatment by our skilled veterinary team, the turtle was sent to Kelly Tarltons on Monday but our vet staff will continue to assess the situation as this turtle is still not out of the woods yet.

We’re a proud member of the Turtle Rescue Team which comprises DOC, Auckland Zoo, Kelly Tarltons and Air New Zealand who fly sick or injured turtles to our vet hospital for treatment. We are hopeful for a positive outcome but it’s still early days for this loggerhead and our vet team have given it a very guarded prognosis. The turtle has severe lung pathology and its right flipper has a deep wound into the joint. The bone below the wound is also infected, and it could still require surgery. 

We’d like to thank the public who did the right thing by contacting DOC. If it hadn’t been for them, this turtle would not have had a chance to survive in the wild. It’s only by us all working together that we can have positive outcomes for wildlife in need. You can read more about how we treat sea turtles by selecting one of our Zoo News stories below.