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Leon the turtle is looking to hitch lift home on private jet

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Staff at Galway Atlantaquaria with Leona the turtle

Staff at Galway Atlantaquaria with Leona the turtle

Staff at Galway Atlantaquaria with Leona the turtle

AN endangered turtle which was washed up almost dead during last winter's storms is seeking a lift home on a private jet.

Leon, the loggerhead turtle has been nursed back to health only to find herself stranded in Ireland. She now needs transportation back to the warmer waters off the Canary Islands.

While all the necessary paperwork to transport the turtle is in order, his rescuers are struggling to find an appropriate means of transport.

The vast majority of commercial flights are not an option as temperatures in the cargo hold can drop to zero and would kill the rescued turtle.

Aer Lingus is assisting in the drive to get Leon home, but has so far been unable to find a plane which is suitable and flying to the area.

Matthew Harkins of Galway Atlantaquaria, which is caring for Leon, said it appealing for any help including those with private jets at their disposal.

"We need a heated cargo hold but most of those fly to other parts of Europe before flying back to Spain," Matthew explained.

TEMPERATURE

"Leon couldn't survive the two-day trip. We've even considered getting a van and driving her across but the journey would be too long and it would be difficult to keep the temperature right for that time.

"We've had Dublin Zoo and Aer Lingus on the case and we're desperately looking for a solution. If anyone out there has a private jet they could use to transport Leon that would be the ideal solution," he added.

Leon, who was later discovered to be a female turtle, was washed up in Quilty Co Clare last November.

"It was touch and go as to whether she would live. For the first few days we weren't even sure if she was alive. Her temperature was down to 10 degrees which is effectively the temperature they die at and her shell was all smashed up.

"It was a slow process but we nursed her back to health," he added.

Matthew said staff at the Galway Atlantaquarium, who have been caring for Leon, made the decision very early on that they wanted to get her home to warmer waters.

hnews@herald.ie


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