MIAMI An ailing 320-pound, green sea turtle, believed to be about 50 years old, was packed in a customized FedEx crate to be shipped to Las Vegas on Thursday to give it a better home at a luxury casino.
The turtle, named OD, after a dive charter boat that rescued it in 2008, has been cared for at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital for almost five years. It cannot be released due to an irreparable collapsed lung that left it floating on its side.
Officials at the Turtle Hospital decided OD needed a better home with a larger and more stimulating environment.
The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas offered to give OD a home for his "retirement" at its 1.6-million-gallon aquarium which already houses several sea turtles.
"He's ready now for a forever home ... where he can live out his life," said Turtle Hospital Manager Bette Zirkelbach.
FedEx is providing free air transportation for OD for the 2,400-mile trip to Las Vegas in a specially moisturized and foam-padded crate, accompanied by Zirkelbach and Turtle Hospital founder Richie Moretti.
(Writing by David Adams; Editing by Nick Zieminski)