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A Second Chance at Life

Houston Zoo Releases 10 Green Sea Turtles Back Into the Wild

Twelve green sea turtles are back home in the Gulf of Mexico after spending a month and a half under Houston Zoo veterinary care. The sea turtles ranging in size from five to 50 pounds were released by the Zoo’s sea turtle team, alongside Texas A&M University Galveston Campus’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research and were sent off by a crowd of more than 300 people.

The sea turtles were found cold stunned in Galveston and Matagorda Bays during the subfreezing temperatures in January. After treating and monitoring the green sea turtles, Houston Zoo senior veterinarian Dr. Joe cleared them to go back home. Three of the green sea turtles released were equipped with satellite transmitters so Gulf Center researchers can monitor their movements.

During their time under Houston Zoo care, the animals were treated for varying degrees of muscle damage from being washed around in the wind-driven waves. Others were treated for signs of pneumonia. All turtles were started on antibiotics, fluids, vitamins, and pain medications. During the final medical check-up, all 10 green sea turtles had a good appetite, and appeared healthy, vigorous, and ready to go home.

When sea turtles experience water temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit they become moribund and are unable to use their muscles normally. This is a condition known as cold stunning. Turtles become incapacitated and often are blown ashore where they may freeze or be preyed upon by birds or mammals if they are not rescued.

People are urged to call 1-866-TURTLE-5 if they find or accidentally catch a sea turtle so that an expert can assess the turtle and provide care if needed.

Guests can help save wild sea turtles every time they visit the Zoo. A portion of each membership and ticket goes toward supporting the Zoo’s sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation program.