Dr Michael Baer, Te Are Manu Vet Clinic medical director, takes a look at the baby turtles with Discover Marine and Wildlife Eco Centre Cook Islands staff Shaynee and volunteer Pipi Warren who are sisters. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23061423 /23061422
Turtles are not designed to be domesticated or kept as pets, says Te Are Manu Vet Clinic medical director Dr Michael Baer.
Dr Baer made
the comments after three green baby turtles that were kept as pets were brought
in from Manihiki this week.
hatchlings are being looked after by Discover Marine and Wildlife Eco-Centre
owner Stephenie Jansen and her team in Arorangi.
said the turtles are quite small. After a close observation, the senior
veterinarian said their biggest problem was the white spots on their back
showing signs of calcium deficiency.
they have been given calcium supplements and that getting them into the
sunlight will also help them, as they can start getting some vitamin D.
hopeful they will make a full recovery and be released back into the wild where
they should be,” Dr Baer said,
how they go with the shell recovery and when we are confident that they are
healthy enough to go, Steph (Jansen) can release them.”
Dr Baer added: “They are not designed for being pets, they are aquatic marine animals, they swim the entire ocean, and they don’t belong in a tank. They will be looked after and will be released.”
Eco-Centre’s Jansen said: " We would like to keep the turtles until they are large enough to apply a flipper tag to them.
"If they are released while they are still small, they would very likely end up a snack for a large predatory fish. We have a reasonably large tank, but may not be able to keep them to the size required for tagging if they aren't able to cohabitate together once they get a lot bigger.
"We will be monitoring this as we go along and make a decision that is based on giving them the best chance at a normal, long and healthy life."
invited the public to make any name suggestions for the three turtles.
Dr Baer said the clinic usually sees an ill turtle once every three or four
months. They are brought in by Jansen or Jules Tamaariki, president of Te
Ara O Te Onu – Turtle Conservation Society, who gets in touch with the clinic.
is also advised that if they see any turtle by the beach, they should not touch
or move them, but should call the marine centre, Turtle Conservation Society,
Ministry of Marine Resources or Te Are Manu.