Brevard Zoo has been awarded a $39,800 grant to open a new Sea Turtle Hospital that will treat sick and injured endangered sea turtles. / TIM SHORTT/FLORIDA TODAY
VIERA, Fla. - Brevard Zoo has been awarded a $39,800 grant to open a new Sea Turtle Hospital that will treat sick and injured endangered sea turtles.
The facility would primarily treat turtles stranded because of fibropapilloma, a deadly viral disease, but also ones that strand for other reasons.
The grant, which would add several new turtle holding tanks at the zoo, was among $311,892 awarded from revenues generated by the Florida sea turtle specialty license plate.
The turtle rehabilitation facility would go next to a state-of-art veterinary facility the zoo opened last year. The anticipated opening of the sea turtle hospital would be October 2013, according to a summary of the project on the website of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the nonprofit group that administers Florida's sea turtle license plate grants.
According to STC's summary of the project, the zoo's sea turtle hospital would include two holding facilities to keep turtles with fibropapilloma and turtles without the disease separated.
The facility will have two separate closed-loop filtration systems. The zoo would make its own saltwater to supply each tank. Each area would be covered separately by a shade structure.
Zoo officials involved with the project could not be reached for comment Friday.
According to the summary, the sea turtle hospital would be staffed by existing zoo personnel and a full-time turtle husbandry coordinator funded by the local Sea Turtle Preservation Society, a nonprofit group based in Indialantic.
That group's yearly 5-K "Turtle Krawl" fundraiser would help support the annual costs to run the new turtle hospital. The long-term plan would be to partner with Brevard Community College to involve their veterinary students in rehabilitating turtles, the summary said. The zoo also is receiving donated tanks from Marineland, Florida.
The new hospital fills a void in sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in this region. The closest rehabilitation facilities now are at SeaWorld in Orlando or at Ponce Inlet in Volusia County.
"The number one criteria in choosing that grant was the gap in availability of rehab facilities in that part of the state," said David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the nonprofit that administers the turtle license plate grants. "They undoubtedly will be able to do the job."