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November 22, 2014

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Rescued sea turtle makes debut at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef

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Courtesy of Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau

OD, a 320-pound sea turtle recently rescued in the Florida Keys, was released onto the Shipwreck Exhibit at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, after living in quarantine at the Shark Reef since his arrival July 25, 2013.

FedEx Delivers 320-Pound Turtle to Strip

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, OD, a 320-pound green sea turtle, lifts his head to breathe in a transition pool at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, in Marathon, Fla. Launch slideshow »

Shark Reef hours

Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

OD, a 320-pound sea turtle recently rescued in the Florida Keys, made his debut this morning at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay.

After a quarantine, Shark Reef scientists released the 50-year-old sea creature into the 1.3 million gallon Shipwreck Exhibit.

OD had suffered a near-fatal lung infection in 1999, when scientists discovered the turtle near Atlantic Beach, N.C. OD was tagged and released, but in 2008, OD again fell ill.

Boaters found OD floating near French Reef in the Florida Keys, where he landed at a Turtle Hospital with a collapsed lung. Then it was clear: OD couldn't survive on his own. He needed a permanent home.

OD found that home with the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, where caretakers were more than happy to take him. OD caught a July 25 ride with FedEx, flying from the Florida Keys all the way to Las Vegas.

That's where OD landed in a dedicated animal quarantine facility — a standard procedure when introducing an animal to a new habitat.

"OD's well-being came first," Jack Jewell, the Shark Reef's general curator, said in a statement. "The quarantine process ensured that he acclimated to his new home. He was under the care of our aquarist and veterinary teams, who prepared him for a long future at Shark Reef Aquarium."

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