Turtle set to be included on the menu thrives in her new Blackpool home

Phoenix was meant for the soup
Phoenix was meant for the soup
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Aquarists are delighted after a giant sea turtle saved from the soup bowl has passed her first health check with flying colours.

Aquarists are delighted after a giant sea turtle saved from the soup bowl has passed her first health check with flying colours.

The beautiful Cayman Islands turtle – who measures nearly three feet by two feet and weighs a whopping 19 stone – is thriving at her new home at Sea Life Blackpool, 4,650 miles away from the islands..

Named Phoenix after William Shakespeare’s poem ‘The Phoenix and the Turtle’, she was bred in captivity to end up on the menu, as turtle soup is a delicacy in parts of Asia and the Caribbean.

She was liberated as part of Sea Life’s breed, rescue, protect’ programme.

Following a three-month assessment, aquarists have now checked on her measurements, weight, appetite and overall welfare. They also tested her breathing, eyesight, hearing and shell strength before giving Phoenix a clean bill of health.

She can now enjoy her new life to the full, following the monitoring period, interacting with visitors and divers as well as enjoying shell scratches and tummy tickles from aquarists while surfacing for feeding.

“She’s settling in really, really well and is already a firm favourite among visitors and staff,” said Matthew Titherington, general manager at Sea Life.. “We’re delighted to be able to give her a clean bill of health. Phoenix is a very affectionate turtle and enjoys a tummy tickle or gentle shell scratch whenever staff are diving for regular tank cleaning.” The first rescued turtle to arrive in the North West of England, Phoenix would not be able to survive in the wild, having been raised in captivity from birth. She will now help to further research into the threatened species and possibly be involved in conservation and breeding programmes.Numbers of sea turtles are dwindling around the globe and they are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These ancient creatures have been on Earth for more than 100 million years — even surviving the dinosaurs when they became extinct 65 million years ago. Among the threats these marine reptiles face are entanglement, habitat loss and consumption of their eggs and meat.Sea turtles often drown caught in fishing gear. Coastal development can destroy important nesting sites and artificial light from houses and other buildings attracts hatchlings away from the ocean. Ocean pollution, like plastic bags, are frequently mistaken for food, such as jellyfish, and ingested, blocking their intestines and often killing them. In some countries, they are hunted for their meat and shells and their eggs are eaten.

Phoenix has developed a daily routine and has a healthy appetite, eating at least three times a day. Her diet includes broccoli, lettuce, squid and fish, with a supplement of minerals.