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Last week, a juvenile hawksbill sea turtle was successfully released back to the wild after being recovered by Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program personnel and rehabilitated at Zoo Miami’s Sea Turtle Hospital.
This endangered turtle arrived at Zoo Miami on November 5th after being found tangled in a net and in a lethargic, weak condition. The Animal Health Team worked diligently to treat the juvenile with fluids and medications. After initial attempts to tube feed the turtle resulted in it regurgitating the food, follow-up treatments were successful in enabling it to eventually keep the food down and slowly gain strength where it soon was eating on its own, feeding on shrimp, fish and squid.
As the turtle gained strength along with an increased appetite, it graduated to larger enclosures with deeper water. Once it demonstrated an excellent diving reflex and the ability to maintain good neutral buoyancy at all levels of the water column, it was cleared for release.
This past Wednesday, Zoo Miami Sea Turtle Hospital Manager, Rosemary Lucas, transported the juvenile turtle (sex undetermined) to Key West where she met with Dr. Jennifer Feltner, Florida Keys Refuge Biologist, and they then took the hawksbill approximately 4 miles offshore and released it back to the wild.
Hawksbill sea turtles are named for their pointed narrow beak and are found mainly in tropical oceans around coral reefs where they feed on a variety of sponges, sea anemones and jellyfish. Prized for their ornate shells that has led to them being classified as critically endangered, these turtles can weigh over 100 pounds as adults.
This is the second successful release back to the wild of a sea turtle that was rehabilitated at Zoo Miami’s Sea Turtle Hospital. As winter approaches, it is likely that there will be more sea turtles suffering from being cold stunned in a variety of areas along the gulf and east coasts and Zoo Miami is preparing to aid in treating those turtles whenever possible.
Yesterday, the female bald eagle known as “Rita,” underwent surgery to repair a critically fractured right wing at Zoo Miami’s Animal Hospital. She had been brought to Zoo Miami on Monday by staff at Wildlife Rescue of Dade County after being brought to that facility by Florida Wildlife Commission officers. She was originally found in critical condition in northwest Miami-Dade County late Sunday evening.
Though it was immediately obvious that she would require surgery, it was important for her to first be stabilized to help ensure that she would be ready for the intensive procedure. After receiving the immediate critical care necessary to treat her injuries and being stabilized, she was prepared for surgery yesterday afternoon.
The surgery was performed by avian veterinary specialist, Dr. Don Harris, from VCA South Dade Animal Hospital, assisted by Zoo Miami Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Marisa Bezjian and the rest of the Zoo Miami Animal Health Team. The main objective of the surgery was to place a pin in the fractured wing bone to stabilize it in hopes of it being able to heal.
The surgery was successful in inserting the pin to align and support the severely fractured bones. However, the prognosis for actual healing to take place is poor due to the lack of circulation detected in the extremity as a result of the serious trauma. Rita is receiving extensive post-operative care that includes drug therapy, laser treatments and acupuncture in hopes of stimulating the healing process but the odds are presently overwhelmingly against being able to salvage the wing and sadly, even higher against her ever being able to fly again. The next several days will be critical in determining her fate.
Rita has already beaten the odds by surviving this devastating trauma that would have surely claimed her life were it not for the extensive care administered by all the parties involved. Everyone who has invested so much in this majestic animal is praying that she can continue on that positive path.
“Rita,” the bald eagle that received international attention last year when her and her mate, “Ron,” were featured on a live nest cam in conjunction with Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, was found in critical condition with a severely broken right wing. She was transported to Wildlife Rescue of Dade County last night by Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officers where she was initially evaluated and stabilized by Wildlife Rescue of Dade County staff members. She was then brought to Zoo Miami’s Animal Hospital this morning where Chief of Animal Health, Dr. Gwen Myers and Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Gaby Flacke, worked with the Animal Health Team to perform a series of radiographs as well as an in-depth examination. In addition, she received antibiotics, pain medication, fluids, vitamins, and wound care.
Radiographs confirmed a severe compound fracture of the right wing. The Animal Health Team is continuing to stabilize her while determining the best surgical options for her care.
Had it not been for the rescue of this bird, she surely would not have survived. Though she remains in critical condition, she at least now has an opportunity for survival. The next 24 – 48 hours will be critical. It is apparent that she was in this state for an extended period of time prior to rescue and therefore is at increased risk for overwhelming infection and other complications.
Zoo Miami’s Animal Health Team will work closely with Wildlife Rescue of Dade County to evaluate the best options moving forward and will keep you updated.
Photo by: Ron Magill
Since its opening back in 1980, Zoo Miami has dealt with a wide variety of emergencies including natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires, as well as illness and trauma, to both staff and guests. For all of those emergency calls, some of which have been life and death situations, we have depended on the paramedics and fire fighters from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Station 43, affectionately known as “First Due at the Zoo!”
During this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, all of us at Zoo Miami, wanted to recognize and thank those dedicated hometown heroes at Station 43 by presenting them with a custom flag that was designed by Zoo Miami graphic artist, Janelle Budell, officially recognizing Station 43 as the “First Due at the Zoo!”
Zoo Miami officials, along with its mascots and live animal ambassadors, will visit the station, located at 13390 SW 152nd Street, Miami, on Saturday, November 26th, at 11:00AM to officially present the flag.
Interested media are welcome to attend to help shine a positive light on these dedicated individuals who help make all of our lives better!
It is with profound sadness and a tremendously heavy heart that Zoo Miami announces the death of “Dalip,” the 56 year old Asian elephant bull, who was humanely euthanized this afternoon after he was found lying down on his habitat and unable to get up. Over the last several months, Dalip had been losing weight and showing other signs of declining health associated with his advanced age. A variety of treatments were administered with limited success as he would show some recovery only to then again digress. Specialists were consulted and in fact were preparing to fly to Miami to provide additional expertise when Dalip was found this morning.
Following a tremendous effort by a combination of the Animal Science, Animal Health, and Maintenance teams to get Dalip on his feet with no success, and after examining blood levels that indicated that key components had elevated to a point where there was little or no chance for recovery, the extremely difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize him.
Tears flowed as staff that had worked with and known Dalip for many years lined up to say goodbye. To many he was not only the patriarch of the elephant herd at the zoo, but in fact was recognized as the patriarch of the entire animal population that calls the zoo home. At 56 years old, he was believed to be the oldest elephant bull in the country. In addition, he was arguably the most magnificent Asian elephant most had ever seen, with huge tusks that had to be occasionally trimmed so that they did not hit the ground.
We’re heartbroken to say goodbye to our Asian Elephant, Dalip. He served as an ambassador for his species and brought smiles to the faces of Zoo Miami visitors for over four decades,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “On this Thanksgiving holiday, we remain grateful to the extraordinary Zoo Miami staff who delivered compassionate care throughout his life.”
With Dalip’s passing also comes the end of an era as he was the last mammal at Zoo Miami that originally lived at the Crandon Park Zoo on Key Biscayne, the predecessor to Miami Metrozoo, and now Zoo Miami. He arrived at the zoo from India as a one year old calf in August of 1967, a gift from a benefactor named Ralph Scott. During his time at the zoo, he successfully sired a male calf named Spike in 1980 while helping to educate and inspire millions of visitors about elephants and the need to care for and protect them. His loss leaves a massive hole in the hearts of all who knew him and he will forever remain an iconic figure in the zoo’s history.