Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts notwithstanding, Andre the green sea turtle has not survived its release into the wild. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center has issued an official statement announcing the animal’s death. What impact did Andre have?
According to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the green sea turtle was brought to the organization on June 15, 2010. It had suffered near-fatal injuries to its shell. The center’s staff veterinarian undertook heroic efforts to stabilize the animal and set it on the road to recovery.
Her efforts included reaching out to companies specializing in human wound care management, reconstructive tissue generation and orthodontic care, seeking out materials, methods and know-how. After 13 months of continuing care, the center released the turtle, now named Andre, back into the ocean on Aug. 3, 2011.
A short three weeks later, Andre was found dead on Hutchinson Island. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center advises that the animal’s condition was so poor that it is impossible to discover what led to its death.
Heroic Efforts in Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
Cynics might point to the amount of time, resources and money spent on healing the animal — only to see it dead three weeks after its well-publicized release — and call it wasted. This would belie the impact the animal’s fight for its life has had on onlookers who followed it via the Internet courtesy of a webcam mounted near its tank. Donors lined up to contribute to the effort monetarily; children as well as adults sent cards addressed to the famous turtle.
It is noteworthy that Loggerhead is not alone in its efforts dedicated to wildlife rescues. Human beings routinely put up personal resources to help endangered or threatened animals.
A case in point is the Wildlife Conservation Society. Although headquartered in New York, its efforts are worldwide, frequently not shying away from taking some personal risks. Mongabay carries the Society’s 2005 press release honoring one of its workers for protecting Africa’s Okapi Faunal Reserve. Situated in a politically unstable area of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the reserve’s botanist — at great risk to his life and physical well-being — stayed on during civil war unrest in the area surrounding the reserve and took care of the animals.
But is it worth it?
Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation is a field that comes with no guarantees and frequent setbacks. Andre shows that the high hopes for a long, healthy life were quickly dashed after the animal’s successful rehabilitation and release.
That said, consider also that in taking on the injured sea turtle, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center undertook experimental treatments that were thus far untried and untested. By giving Andre a new lease on life, future wildlife rescues will benefit from the experiences gained.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center: “Official Statement From Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Issued August 24, 2011”
Mongabay: “Okapi, other wildlife saved in the Congo by forest protector”