Yarra sticks her neck out this World Turtle Day

23 May 2014

Today is World Turtle Day and Yarra is one lucky turtle: she swallowed a huge fish hook discarded by a fisherman but, following emergency surgery at Healesville Sanctuary, her prognosis is looking good.

Yarra is a Broadshell Turtle, weighs in at a hefty 4.4kg and is larger than a dinner plate. She is one of the largest species of freshwater turtle in Australia.  They are found in the Murray-Darling river system from Northern Victoria to Queensland but is a threatened species in Victoria due to habitat destruction. Fox predation of nests is also a major key threat.  

Yarra was found in Yarrawonga where a local vet diagnosed fish hook ingestion. The surgery was too complicated for them so she was transported to Healesville Sanctuary for the intricate operation and recovery which lasted three and half hours.

The hook was successfully removed via an incision near Yarra’s hind leg.  The hook had done some nasty internal damage. She now has an IV catheter in so we can give her fluids and also a feeding tube so we can feed her.  This will need to stay in until the sutures have healed – about four weeks.

When she is well she will be returned to Yarrawonga.

Most animals are successfully treated but many need months of rehabilitation before they can be released back into the wild. And it’s this ongoing care that can be extremely costly. This winter Healesville Sanctuary needs to raise $150,000 to sustain our wildlife hospital over the next three months, so animals like Yarra get the veterinary attention they deserve. Visit www.zoo.org.au/wildlife  to support the vet team to treat our precious wildlife like Yarra.

Hooks and plastic waste, particularly fishing line, pose a threat to marine wildlife when not disposed of responsibly and continue to threaten wildlife long after they has been discarded. As a result, thousands of animals suffer from entanglement and ingestment every year, with only a small number ever detected and saved.

Specially designed Seal the Loop bins, made from recycled plastics collected at Melbourne Zoo, have been installed across various locations along the Victorian coastline.