Turtle release

Georgia Sea Turtle Center veterinarian Terry Norton, center executive director Michelle Kaylor and Katie Dixon try to coax a turtle toward the water during a release in April.

Georgia Sea Turtle Center veterinarian Terry Norton, center executive director Michelle Kaylor and Katie Dixon try to coax a turtle toward the water during a release in April.

A patient at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island recently celebrated the veterinary hospital’s 15th anniversary with her own seafood flavored ice block birthday cake.

Anni, who was named in honor of the June 16 anniversary, is one of many, many patients that have been served at the Sea Turtle Center, a legacy that was celebrated last month in coordination with World Sea Turtle Day.

“Fifteen years. It’s hard to believe,” said Michelle Kaylor, the center’s director, during an update for the Jekyll Island Authority’s board of directors last week. “It’s very exciting.”

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a rehabilitation, research and educational facility that opened in 2007 and offers the public a chance to learn about sea turtles and see rehabilitation efforts in action.

The center kickstarted the morning of its anniversary celebration with a live broadcast through the Weather Channel. Scute, the center’s mascot, also made an appearance.

The center also launched an anniversary sweepstakes in honor of the milestone.

“This is where guests can enter to win one of 15 new customized bricks, and then they can be added to the center’s walkway, which is the walkway that is traveled by thousands of our guests when entering our center,” Kaylor said.

The center also reflected on the patients served and featured 15 notable sea turtles’ stories on its website. Anni was among those whose story was featured.

“Also, as a thank you to all of our supporters, on our anniversary day we offered 15% discount in store and also online for all of our merchandise, our programs and our memberships as well,” Kaylor said.

The day ended with a special patient feeding, when Anni enjoyed the birthday treat made just for her. Anni, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, arrived at the center on April 20 and is the 1,000th sea turtle patient to be admitted since the hospital opened. Anni, short for “Anniversary,” arrived weak with lots of living organisms on her shell. She was also anemic.

Her condition has since improved from critical to stable and getting better.

“We gave her the seafood flavored ice block birthday cake and serenaded her as well as our guests at the 3 o’clock feeding program, with a birthday song as a salute to our 15-year anniversary,” Kaylor said. “So all in all it was a very good day for us at the sea turtle center.”

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