Shenzi | South Carolina Aquarium


Aug 16


Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Kiawah Island, SC
Arrival Date: 8/6/2019
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 9.5 lbs

Case History

Shenzi was hooked by a surf fisherman early in the afternoon on Tuesday, August 8, 2019. Cindy Lockhart, a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources permit holder responded to the call and rescued this little guy off the beach. Shenzi was then transported to the South Carolina Aquarium by SCDNR staff member Michelle Pate. Once Shenzi arrived, Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) staff began triaging quickly to assess the severity of the fisheries interaction.


Staff took radiographs to get a better idea of the location of the hook. Radiographs showed that there were two very large J hooks attached to metal leader lines in Shenzi’s throat. Staff took measurements, analyzed her blood, did a full physical exam to look for any other injuries and administered antibiotics, vitamins, and fluids. Overall, Shenzi was not in terrible health and the radiograph showed that she had been eating lots of crabs and small whelks in the days prior to stranding. Once Shenzi had been examined and all else looked good, vet staff set their sights on removing the two hooks. The location of the hook is very important, as they can sometimes be removed with only some light sedation.  In more complicated cases, the animal has to be fully anesthetized to make an incision into the esophagus from the underside of the throat for removal. Dr. Shane Boylan wanted to avoid surgery since the recovery time can be difficult so he began trying to remove the hooks from the throat. In less than 30 minutes, both hooks were out! Shenzi recovered from sedation quickly and spent the night resting in a shallow waterbed.


August 13, 2019: Shenzi was fasted for five days to allow her throat to heal from the wounds caused by the hooks and the hook removal procedure. We have started offering food, but so far she has not been interested in it. It is not uncommon for turtles to take a few days to start eating. Shenzi is constantly swimming in her tank, and we have high hopes that she will recover quickly!

September 1, 2019: Shenzi has been doing really well since her admit. She is swimming around all the time and has begun to eat regularly! So far, Shenzi has no lasting effects from the hooks and the removal process, but we will continue to monitor her closely.

October 1, 2019: Last week we pulled Shenzi from her tank to do a full physical exam, draw blood and tag her so we can begin the evaluation process for release. Once the bloodwork comes back, our staff will evaluate the results to decide if Shenzi is ready for release. Until then, she is living in her larger tank and loving it!

October 15, 2019: This week Shenzi was moved into a smaller tank, better suited for her size. She quickly felt at home and is doing wonderful!

November 1, 2019: We noticed that Shenzi was not defecating as often as he had been previously. So, after about a week, our vet staff did an enema to help move things along. Dr. Shane also did a cloacal scope and a full physical exam. Shenzi is a good eater, so we are anticipating a blow out soon!

November 15, 2019: We continue to monitor Shenzi carefully, but she has been defecating more normally since her exam and enema. We expect her to continue on the up-and-up!

December 1, 2019: Shenzi is still jetting around her tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. She has been receiving regular enemas to help her defecate more regularly and these seem to be helping. Other than the occasional constipation, Shenzi is doingvery well! As long as she continues in good health, we will evaluate her for release in the New Year!

December 15, 2019: Shenzi is continuing to get weekly enemas to help move things along, but overall she seems to be doing well!

January 1, 2020: We have stopped doing enemas on Shenzi since we believe that her “normal” is defecating light, dusty fecals every few days. We continue to monitor her closely and we recently gave her a bit of blue crab claw to see how quickly she digests it. We hope that in the coming months we can begin reevaluating her for release.

January 15, 2020: We examined Shenzi this week to see how fit for release she might be. When we originally evaluated her for release, her white blood cell count was high which indicated to us that she was fighting an infection. After another round of antibiotics and lots of monitoring her digestive health, we hope she is ready!

February 1, 2020: Shenzi’s bloodwork came back and it was pretty normal. Our veterinarian is reviewing her case to see if she is ready for release.

February 15, 2020: Shenzi was released on the sandy beaches of Cape Canaveral National Seashore in Florida. Due to chilly local water temperatures during this time of year, we cannot release our patients off our local beaches.

Skip to content