A 320-pound male green sea turtle, that lived at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital for almost five years, has arrived in Las Vegas via FedEx, according to Bette Zirkelbach, who accompanied the reptile on the 2,400-mile trip Thursday.
OD, named for the Key Largo dive charter boat Ocean Diver that rescued it in 2008, cannot be released due to an irreparable collapsed lung.
The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas responded to the Turtle Hospital's request for a "forever home." Following a standard 45-day quarantine period for any new animal, OD is to be admitted to the facility's 1.3-million-gallon aquarium to co-exist with other well-cared-for marine animals including sea turtles.
"Our happy ending is releasing them in the wild, but OD going to the aquarium he's going in, is the best life that he will ever have and he'll have people to take care of him," said Richie Moretti, the hospital's founder and director.
Not only will OD have better living conditions, but he will also provide a resource for the aquarium's visitors to be better educated about endangered green sea turtles.
Early Thursday, the Turtle Hospital's ambulance transported OD from the Florida Keys to the FedEx facility at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport. The reptile was loaded on an A300 aircraft for the two-leg flight.
FedEx is providing gratis air transportation which includes allowing hospital founder Richie Moretti and manager Bette Zirkelbach to accompany OD every step of the way to monitor the turtle's condition.