Coin-swallowing turtle takes turn for worse

The coin-swallowing turtle, covered with a towel, receives oxygen and a saline drip in ICU after a second operation on Sunday. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

The coin-swallowing turtle has a slim chance of survival after lapsing into a coma following an operation to remove more than 900 coins from its stomach two weeks ago.

Vet Nantarika Chansue, director of Aquatic Animal Research Centre of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Veterinarian Science, yesterday admitted the 25-year-old sea turtle, called Orm Sin (piggy bank), "had less than a 50% chance of surviving".

A veterinarian team on Sunday needed to perform an urgent operation on the female turtle after its condition deteriorated due to high levels of nickel in its body, absorbed from the coins. The turtle had 200 times more than the usual amount of nickel in its blood, resulting in low immunity which affected its heart and muscles.

Also, the turtle's intestines were tangled as its intestinal muscles were unable to recover due to loss of protein, Vet Nantharika said.

"The team didn't expect any complications because the turtle started to recover after the operation. It could swim and eat food and was responding well. We initially planned to release it in Sattahip this Thursday," she said. Oxygen and saline drips were also administered to the sea animal, which has been admitted to an ICU.

Meanwhile, Pasakorn Brikshavana, the vet team's chief who led both operations, yesterday admitted the turtle's condition was critical, saying the tangled intestines resulted from empty space inside its stomach after the coins were removed.

Another operation might be required to help the turtle survive, he added.

On March 6, the team of vets removed 915 coins weighing a total of 5kg from the stomach of the ailing female turtle which had swallowed coins thrown into its pond by people seeking good fortune.

Back to top