A turtle named “Bank” has died following surgery to remove almost 1,000 coins from her stomach, according to vets in Thailand. The coins found inside Bank were a result of tourists repeatedly throwing them into the pond that was the turtle’s home. Her death was caused by blood poisoning from the loose change, which was confirmed by doctors at the veterinary faculty at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. Dr Nantarika Chansue, who removed 5kg (11lbs) of coins from the turtle’s stomach in a very long operation on 6 March, said, “She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed.” Chansue, the vet in charge of Chulalongkorn hospital’s aquatic research centre, told reporters, “At 10.10am she went with peace. She is my friend, teacher and patient.”
Local media in Thailand began publicising the story of Bank last month, which prompted the public to donate about 15,000 baht (£350) towards her crucial surgery. A total of five surgeons from Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary faculty worked tirelessly to remove the coins inside her body for four hours whilst Bank was anaesthetised. The coins had to be removed just a few at a time, as the huge mass was too large to take out through a 10cm incision. Many of the coins had already corroded or partially dissolved, which caused the blood poisoning.
Chansue said that she was furious when she discovered the cause of the turtle’s agony. “I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle.” Initially, Bank began to recover well following the operation, but sadly a checkup on Saturday revealed a problem with her intestines that prompted doctors to perform a second operation. Due to complications, Bank never woke up from the second procedure and died on Tuesday morning.
Bank’s life consisted of two decades in a public pond in Chonburi province, about 110 miles (175km) south-east of Bangkok. Surgeons found that the turtle had swallowed a total of 915 coins that had been thrown into her home by tourists. The coins eventually formed a mass that cracked her shell. After being distraught with her death, and angry at the cause, vets hope that the media coverage of the tragedy will make people think twice before throwing coins into water where animals live.