Sea Turtle Rehab Center To Open In Times Square

This November, joining Spiderman, Sponge Bob, The Naked Cowboy and dozens of larger-than-life neon signs is a Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.

Few people know that Midtown Manhattan is the third largest sanctuary for the urban loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta urbana). The urban loggerhead is considered an endangered species and are protected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Untended impact with taxi cabs are responsible for the most midtown loggerhead deaths, over 200 annually die by cab. Turtles may also suffocate if they are surrounded by crowds. This led Dr. Rubin Medico-Bufala to secure the 800,000 square foot space on two floors of a building near 41st Street and 7th Avenue to treat the urban loggerhead and release them to back the streets when healthy.

The majority of people living and working in New York City are unaware they coexist with urban sea turtles and walk past them every day. The population of endangered urban sea turtles has dwindled over the past 10 years, mainly due to increased vehicular traffic, 24 hour lighting and subwoofer reverberation. Disoriented turtles wander the streets, picking up discarded honey-roasted nuts and dirtwater dogs, resulting in heartburn and often a peptic ulcer. In contrast, healthy urban turtles have a bland vegetarian diet of a salad from Chop't and a chai iced tea.

Dr Medico-Bufala hired 100 struggling actors to treat sick street turtles at the soon-to-open rehabilitation center.

The turtles will also be taught coping skills to use when in a crowd. Coping with crowded places presents a challenge to many urban turtles and the hope is therapy before being released will lead to a healthier existance.

"We'll be taking every sea turtle to a few Broadway shows and educate them what happens when a turtle eats street meat, and of of most importance, these turtles will learn ten effective ways to get a buck out of a tourist" Medico-Bufala said.

"The greatest part about this is that the recruited actors are being educated on sustainability, they're learning about the protection of turtles, and they're learning why a healthy urban turtle diet is really important. "I think the really important part about this is the actors are making a step forward, we've got a lot of people coming to the training course. Some for a free hot breakfast or to be discovered, but most show an interest in urban sea life." Dr Medico-Bufala said if the long lines at the job fair is any indication, the turtle rehab center should be very successful. "It makes a huge difference having the triage center right where turtles are being injuried, in Midtown Manhattan, New York. Injured turtles can be treated close to their home and back on the street in days instead of being shipped south to Florida or Mexico."

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