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Turtle gets a helping hand

The team  at Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital recently farewelled a patient who had spent the previous month in care recovering from surgery to treat a nasty fish hook injury.

The female Murray River Turtle was rescued from a yard in Nyngan by a concerned member of the public who noticed some fishing line protruding from the animal’s mouth. She was transferred to the Wildlife Hospital in Dubbo where x-rays revealed a large fishing hook was penetrating into her oesophagus and the attached line had cut into the corner of her mouth. Blood tests showed the turtle was dehydrated, suggesting that she had been injured for some time and unable to eat and drink.

The Zoo’s veterinary team got to work quickly, anaesthetising her and surgically removing the hook and delicately repairing the damage to the neck and mouth.

The turtle was fed via a tube for the first week after the operation to allow her tissues to heal. Medication was necessary to treat the infection and to keep her comfortable. Her appetite returned soon enough and the team was delighted when, a few weeks later, she made a complete recovery. The turtle has now been returned to the waterways of Nyngan in a much better state of health than when she first arrived.

And as is the case in a busy hospital, as one patient leaves, the next one arrives: another turtle, no less! This time a male Eastern Long-necked Turtle, referred from a veterinary clinic in Coonamble for surgery to repair an injured shell, damaged after being run over by a car. The team is hopeful that things will work out just as well for him.

The dedicated team at Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital receives wildlife patients from all over inland New South Wales for disease investigation, assessment and rehabilitation.       

Dr Michelle Campbell, Veterinarian

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