By Marika Hill
Veterinarians have lost the battle to save an endangered green turtle after she unexpectedly died from a heart attack yesterday afternoon.
Massey's NZ Wildlife Health Centre veterinarian Kerri Morgan said the turtle, who was being treated for fungal pneumonia, had been showing signs of improvement.
"[Yesterday] morning she was quite bright and feisty when she was being fed," she said.
"But when they went to check on her in the afternoon for treatment she was not doing well, and unfortunately she passed away."
A post-mortem carried out last night revealed the turtle was sicker than veterinarians had realised.
"She had fungal pneumonia but she also had fungal abscesses all through her body and her kidneys were shutting down. So we were never going to win," Ms Morgan said.
Just days ago the turtle had become more active and her vital signs were improving, allowing her to be submerged in a pool of water.
However, Ms Morgan had warned the survival rate for ill turtles is just 30 per cent.
In a fight for the turtle's survival, veterinarians sent her for a CT scan, drilled a hole in her shell to take a biopsy, and inserted an intravenous line.
It was the first time a turtle had been treated at the centre.
Although the turtle lost her battle, Ms Morgan said the centre gained knowledge from her treatment and the post-mortem.
Veterinarians were undecided on what would happen to the turtle's body.
Staff at the NZ Wildlife Centre constantly dealt with extremely sick wild animals and death was not uncommon.
"You can't help but get emotionally attached to patients, but you can't get too attached," Ms Morgan said.