Environmental enrichment facilitates release and survival of an injured loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) after ten years in captivity
Keywords:Loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta caretta, amputation of fore flipper, environmental enrichment program, release
In June 2006 a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) was admitted to a rescue centre on the Mediterranean coast with severe fishing net entanglement in its fore right flipper. The flipper could not be saved and was amputated at shoulder joint level. The animal remained in captivity for 10 years due to concerns over its survival on release back to the wild. In 2016, an environmental enrichment programme was implemented to encourage the performance of wild-type feeding and locomotion behaviours, with the end plan of release. The enrichment programme lasted for two months. The enrichment devices achieved their goals of encouraging wild-type behaviours and avoidance of man-made items. After the enrichment programme had ended, the animal was successfully released back to the wild, its transmitting device showing that it crossed the Strait of Gibraltar four months post release, approached then the island of Madeira and the Azores and started crossing the Atlantic Ocean, where it was still emitting ten months post release. This report indicates that the implementation of an environmental enrichment programme contributed to the successful release of an injured loggerhead turtle back into the wild after a long period in captivity and that environmental enrichment may facilitate the release of other turtles housed in captive environments.
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