With the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Audubon Aquarium recently released a rehabilitated alligator snapping turtle into the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge in Houma, La.
The turtle was brought to Audubon Zoo in October 2012 after being discovered in the middle of Tchoupitoulas Street, a busy thoroughfare in downtown New Orleans. It is suspected that he fell from the back a moving truck causing road rash and ulcerations along his face and the top of his carapace, zoo officials say.
At Audubon Zoo, the turtle received treatment and was transferred to Audubon Aquarium two months later. After the turtle fully recovered from the injuries, Aquarium veterinarians and animal staff decided to release him into the wild.
"Releasing this animal is an important part of Audubon Nature Institute's overall mission to preserve the wildlife found in our local habitats," said Audubon Curator of Aquatics, Kristine Grzenda. "Alligator snapping turtle populations are in decline due to habitat loss and over-harvesting for their meat."
Audubon staff teamed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary to locate a secluded area in Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge where the turtle was successfully released.