© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Thai Turtle That Ate Hundreds Of Coins Has Died

The female green sea turtle nicknamed "Piggy Bank" swims in a pool earlier this month at the Sea Turtle Conservation Center in Thailand's Chonburi province.
Sakchai Lalit

A green sea turtle in Thailand that drew international sympathy when it emerged that she had consumed nearly 1,000 coins thrown into her pool has died.

The turtle nicknamed Omsin, the Thai word for "piggy bank," had an hours-long emergency surgery to remove the coins earlier this month. But she never woke up from a second emergency surgery.

The dean of the veterinary school at Chulalongkorn University told reporters Tuesday that "the cause of death was intestinal obstruction that blocked Omsin's protein intake, while nickel toxicity from the coins damaged her immune system," according to The Associated Press.

For years, the turtle reportedly ate the coins that people tossed into her pool in Chonburi province, as The Two-Way has reported.

The coins became so heavy that her shell cracked. CT scans taken before the turtle's first surgery clearly show a mass of metal in her innards.

And afterward, the veterinarians showed reporters the pile of hundreds of coins that she had consumed.

The death of this turtle, believed to be about 25 years old, is prompting some soul-searching about a practice that is believed to bring good luck in Thailand.

As the Bangkok Post reported, veterinarian Nantarika Chansue told reporters that she wants this tragedy "to be an example for people in general who may wrongly believe that throwing coins into ponds where there are live animals brings good fortune. It only hurts the animals."

Chansue pointed out one happier aspect, according to the AP: "She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed."

The vets are hoping that a necropsy might help them learn more about Omsin's condition, which could help them save other turtles.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.