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Tossing coins in a fountain for luck is a popular superstition, but a similar belief brought misery to a sea turtle in Thailand. Veterinarians operated Monday to remove 915 coins from the turtle's stomach.
Nicknamed "Bank," the green sea turtle's indigestible diet was a result of many tourists seeking good fortune tossing coins into her pool over many year at a conservation center in the eastern town of Sri Racha.
Many Thais believe that throwing coins on turtles will bring longevity.
The loose change eventually formed a 5-pound ball in her stomach, making it difficult to swim. 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 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.
The surgery team leader said Monday that when she discovered the cause of the turtle's agony she was furious.
"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," said Nantarika Chansue, head of Chulalongkorn University's veterinary medical aquatic animal research center.