BANGKOK (AP) — Tossing coins in a fountain for luck is a popular superstition, but a similar belief brought misery to a sea turtle in Thailand from whom doctors have removed 915 coins.
Veterinarians in Bangkok operated Monday on the 25-year-old female green sea turtle nicknamed "Bank," whose indigestible diet was a result of many tourists seeking good fortune tossing coins into her pool over many years in the eastern town of Sri Racha.
Many Thais believe that throwing coins on turtles will bring longevity.
Typically, a green sea turtle has a lifespan of around 80 years, said Roongroje Thanawongnuwech, dean of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary faculty. It is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The loose change eventually formed a heavy ball in her stomach weighing 5 kilograms (11 pounds). The weight cracked the turtle's ventral shell, causing a life-threatening infection.
Five surgeons from Chulalongkorn University's veterinary faculty patiently removed the coins over four hours while "Bank" was under general anesthesia. The stash was too big to take out through the 10-cm (4-inch) incision they had made, so it had to be removed a few coins at a time. Many of them had corroded or partially dissolved.
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