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LENNIE

KEMP'S RIDLEY

Juvenile

  ADMIT
OCT 18, 2006

NOT RELEASABLE
 
Weight  2.5 kg  
SCL:  cm
SCW:  cm

THE STRANDING Found in a pound net, thin, not eating.  Rescued by fisherman and long time turtle friend, Lennie.   Lennie (the human) is soon to retire and he will be missed
THE STORY

Lennie was admitted with blunt force trauma to the head, an easy diagnosis considering the obvious damage to his skull and eyes. He was also thin and lethargic, but unlike the emaciated “barnacle Bill” turtles we get, we knew Lennie’s condition was directly related to the head injury and the resulting poor vision. He was literally “dazed and confused.” We surmised that, for all intents and purposes, he was blind in his right eye. It was sunken and atrophied. But we were operating on the hope that his left eye, despite being damaged and covered partially with a film remained somewhat functional.

  At first Lennie refused to eat, but soon we realized he wasn’t just being stubborn. He literally couldn’t find the food we were giving him, so it was time for us to adapt to his condition. That meant feeding him small pieces of squid and filleted fish, one at a time and held directly under his nose. We all cheered when he took that first bite, and once he had his wait-staff trained he couldn’t get enough to eat.  

But what to do with a turtle with bad eyesight? Contact “Wendy’s” ophthalmologist, of course. So right after the holidays Jean and Lennie made the trip to Virginia for an exam and consult with Dr. Brad Nadelstein, DVM, ACVD. I could give you all the technical terms for the tests, and for the problems he found, but the bottom line is: Lennie is blind, and surgery wouldn’t help.
 

So now we have a blind, but otherwise thriving sea turtle with no hope of being released. That’s when the really serious thinking and discussion starts to happen. Could he be happy living permanently under our care? Because he grabs at his food so eagerly we think he has at least some sense of smell. We know he hears, because he’ll turn his head and follow your voice when you talk to him. He’s not very big right now, so even though he’s in one of our smaller tanks he isn’t showing any signs of depression from being confined. In fact, he may feel quite secure because his environment is so limited and familiar to him. If he’s taken from his tank the flippers fling forward in the typical sea turtle defensive posture, but if he hears a familiar voice he’ll immediately relax. He especially enjoys his weekly massage from Miss Peggy.


Lennie will be closely watched, and showered with love for the next year or so as we observe his behavior and look for any signs that he’s unhappy. If things go well, Jean will begin the process of petitioning for the necessary federal and state permits that will allow us to keep Lennie as an “educational turtle.”

 

 


Endangered sea turtles don’t normally stay at the facility forever; sometimes it could be a matter of days before they are better but, more often, years before they reach their peek potential and are considered normal again. The mission of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital is to heal the creatures and place them back into their natural state, living in the ocean. The staff does not focus their treatment to make them dependent upon human hands for food or survival. Their goal is to return them to the sea.



Taking a closer look at Lennie.

 
Lennie gets a lift back to his tank after a trip to the exam table.
FEB 2011
 
Lennie underwater