Pilot volunteers to fly injured tortoises for treatment - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pilot volunteers to fly injured tortoises for treatment

Posted: Updated:

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –A private plane took off from Albany's airport today with some unusual passengers; four Gopher Tortoises.

A flight instructor volunteered his time and his plane to transport the badly injured creatures to Jekyll Island so they could get the urgent treatment they need.

Ben, its actually a very interesting story. A good Samaritan brought one of these tortoises to the flint river quarium after someone witnessed a semi truck run over it. So, one of the employees posted a note on her facebook, asking for help, it wasn't long before these turtles had first class transportation to the treatment they needed.

Dozens of planes take of from the Albany airport every week, but very few pilots transport passengers like these.

Four Gopher tortoises stacked in boxes in the backseat of this plane, are badly injured and are in need of urgent help. "There are a couple of them that are missing large portions of their shell that are completely torn away and ripped," said Kelly Putnam, with Flint RiverQuarium.

One was brought to the Flint RiverQuarium after a semi truck hit it. "We have three more that are going that were transferred from a local rehabber they are sharing the ride," said Putnam.

And since these tortoises are threatened, employees knew they needed specialized attention. "If they aren't taken care of properly they could end up with some infections and probably die in the end," said Putnam.

So they reached out to the public. "I posted basically a shout out for help on face book," said Putnam.

It didn't take long before others caught wind of the situation. "A rehabber in Atlanta caught wind of it and she knew a guy who used to be a pilot who knew the pilot that is transporting them," she said.

Today Franklin Perry Cawthorn, a local flight instructor, volunteered his time, and his plane to get these tortoises the urgent help they need.

"We've never flown animals anywhere before, if we didn't have him to help us out we were going to have to drive them over this coming weekend," said Putnam.

They were flown to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in Jekyll Island, where doctors specialize in rehabbing turtles.

But thanks to the pilot, and concerned employees these tortoises got first class treatment and now are in good hands.

Once these Tortoises are healthy, they'll be released. Employees will contact the people who brought them in so they can put them right back where they found them.

Employees say if you come across a turtle on the side of the road that's not injured, leave it alone.

If you find a turtle crossing the road and want to help it to the other side, take it in the direction it's going or else it could end up in the same mess.

©2010 WALB News. All rights reserved.   Feedback