TARN SANGPRASERT WRITES – A turtle in Thailand has died after a team of surgeons spent seven hours removing 900-plus coins from its belly.
On March 6, veterinarians at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University operated on the 25-year-old sea turtle, which appeared to be suffering stomach pains and was swimming oddly. A CT scan found the coin trove, which weighed in at 11 lbs in local and foreign currency. The surgical team later nicknamed the critter Omsin, Thai for “Piggy Bank.”
Back in February, Omsin was relocated from an abandoned turtle pond in the Sriracha District to the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre of the Royal Thai Navy. It was there that staff noticed the beast’s distress. Tossing coins into a pond full of turtles has long been a popular Thai superstitious practice. Some people believe that successfully landing a coin on a turtle’s back will exorcise bad luck or karma, and bring good luck and longevity. It wasn’t so lucky for Omsin.
Though the surgery appeared to go well, and staff monitored Omsin’s recovery with a series of encouraging Facebook posts over subsequent days, the turtle took a sudden turn for the worse two weeks in. Doctors rushed her into surgery where they found her intestines had twisted around the area once filled by the coins. Soon after she died.
Many people, including the dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Veterinary Faculty, Roongroje Thanawongnuwech, and head of Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animal Research Centre, Nantarika Chansue, expressed their anger and called for an end to the harmful coin tossing that led to Omsin’s plight.
“I felt angry that humans, whether they meant to do it or not, had caused harm to this turtle,” said Chansue, who led the surgical team. “If people want [good luck], it might be better for them to put those coins in the donation box instead of throwing coins into the pond,” echoed Thanawongnuwech.