R.I.P. Piggy Bank

Today I am sad to report that Omsin, the sea turtle, has died.  I meant to write a post about Omsin earlier this month when her story first crossed my radar, but I was distracted by other stories, mostly political, and eventually Omsin receded to the dusty corners of my mind.  Omsin lived most of her life in a pond near the Gulf of Thailand, south of Bangkok until earlier this month when she was moved to the veterinary faculty at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.

Though it is unknown how long Omsin had lived in the pond, it is thought that she had been there for most of her 25 years. It is likely she was initially taken there by fishermen who had, perhaps, caught her in their nets. Long ago, a Buddhist leader told fishermen they’d earn good karma by releasing their catches into artificial ponds, and the tradition came to be known as ‘mercy release’.

Since sea turtles are known for their longevity, custom held that the turtle’s long life would rub off on those who shared their wealth. Thus came the tradition of people tossing coins into ponds where turtles live, and thus began the problems for poor Omsin.  For you see, Omsin liked to eat the coins that were thrown her way.  When Omsin was rescued from the pond in February, she was one very sick turtle, at the point of death, shell bulging, infected, barely able to swim for all the ‘fortune’ she’d swallowed. Scientists and veterinarians named her Omsin, which in Thai means “piggy bank”.

Omsin-4At the rescue center, Omsin quickly came to the attention of veterinary scientist Dr. Nantarika Chansue — Thailand’s leading turtle rescuer. Dr. Chansue, who has been rescuing turtles from filthy ponds for some fifteen years, said she had never seen a case as disheartening as Omsin.  A CT scan revealed an egg-shaped clump, seven inches on the side, glowing silver, and the mass had cracked her shell.  Turns out there were 11 pounds of slimy black coins pressing against the walls of Omsin’s belly. Surgery to remove the coins was the only hope to save Omsin’s life.

The coins could only be removed a few at a time through the 10-centimeter incision, and the surgery took 7 hours to remove all 915 coins. It was hoped that Omsin had a decent chance for a long life at the end of the surgery.

Omsin-2

But Omsin’s problems were not to end there.  At first she seemed to be recovering well, but on Saturday, a checkup revealed intestinal problems that would require more surgery.  This morning, doctors performed a second operation, but sadly, Omsin, aka Piggy Bank, did not awaken and was pronounced dead at 10:10 a.m. Cause of death: blood poisoning. Doctors said the removal of the coins had created a space in Omsin’s stomach that had probably blocked blood flow in her intestine. That became fatal after she suffered an acute intestinal infection.

“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, It’s torture for animals after they eat the coins people throw into ponds. Instead of getting merit, you actually commit a sin.” – Nantarika Chansue

Humans, even well-intentioned humans, pose the greatest threat to the earth and all its lifeforms.  R.I.P. Omsin Piggy Bank.omsin-3

14 thoughts on “R.I.P. Piggy Bank

  1. Only My Opinion
    Hi jill,
    I am sorry you were the one to have to write Osmin’s tragic story, but you are my hero for writing it. Osmin is also my hero, even though she had to die to tell her complete story, and that makes me sad.
    However, let’s celebrate Osmin 25 years of life too. We don’t know very much of it, other than where she lived, and that she loved to eat shiny things. Sort of storing her treasures, I guess, not knowing that the richer she became, the closer she was coming to her death. It a thing typical of a lot of humans, hoarding their money, and the more they get, the more stress that comes with it.
    This is a story with a lesson that can be learned from it, don’t save all your money until it’s too late to enjoy it…

    STOP!

    This is not the story I sat down to write. I wanted to make Osmin a symbol of how humans destroy nature without giving it a second thought. Despite the tragedy, Osmin at least was given a chance to be saved by an individual of the species that caused her such suffering. How many of her sea dwelling cousins are dying without us knowing anything about them. Plastic Island in the North Pacific Ocean is still growing. Why so many ocean currents lead to Plastic Island we probably will never know. but we have the proof that they do. It seems a lot of plastics thrown into the ocean as garbage eventually ends up becoming part of a Plastic Island, wherever they are being created. Plastic Island is the biggest of them all, and kills millions of sea turtles and baby albatrosses every year. Who knows how many other species are directly or indirectly are affected by this garbage, including humankind. Let us make Osmin’s story speak for all these nameless creatures. They deserve a better end than to be nothing but statistics
    .
    rawgod

    Liked by 1 person

    • I caught some flak for writing of Omsin, because it was such a sad story, but … I felt she deserved a tribute and it was just something I felt I had to do. While I don’t think that anybody who threw a coin into her pond did so maliciously, we, the human race, are still responsible and guilty of ignorance, at best. Humans are destroying habitats and wildlife without really giving it much thought. It would be naive of me to think that we will do any better in the foreseeable future, but … I am the eternal optimist and I always hope that we will!

      Like

  2. Only My Opinion
    Hi jill,
    I am sorry you were the one to have to write Osmin’s tragic story, but you are my hero for writing it. Osmin is also my hero, even though she had to die to tell her complete story, and that makes me sad.
    However, let’s celebrate Osmin 25 years of life too. We don’t know very much of it, other than where she lived, and that she loved to eat shiny things. Sort of storing her treasures, I guess, not knowing that the richer she became, the closer she was coming to her death. It a thing typical of a lot of humans, hoarding their money, and the more they get, the more stress that comes with it.
    This is a story with a lesson that can be learned from it, don’t save all your money until it’s too late to enjoy it…

    STOP!

    This is not the story I sat down to write. I wanted to make Osmin a symbol of how humans destroy nature without giving it a second thought. Despite the tragedy, Osmin at least was given a chance to be saved by an individual of the species that caused her such suffering. How many of her sea dwelling cousins are dying without us knowing anything about them. Plastic Island in the North Pacific Ocean is still growing. Why so many ocean currents lead to Plastic Island we probably will never know. but we have the proof that they do. It seems a lot of plastics thrown into the ocean as garbage eventually ends up becoming part of a Plastic Island, wherever they are being created. Plastic Island is the biggest of them all, and kills millions of sea turtles and baby albatrosses every year. Who knows how many other species are directly or indirectly are affected by this garbage, including humankind. Let us make Osmin’s story speak for all these nameless creatures. They deserve a better end than to be nothing but statistics.

    Liked by 1 person

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