Mall of America's 280-pound turtle goes to the vet todayby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Amelio, a 280-pound sea turtle with deformed back fins, will travel about 12 miles this afternoon to have his flippers X-rayed.
The 10-year-old animal was born with deformed back fins -- a condition veterinarians determined was a result of habitat destruction in the wild when he was a baby. Sea turtles need their large flippers in order to adapt to life in the marine environment.
Experts determined Amelio's chances of surviving in the wild with his birth defects were slim. So they brought him to the Underwater Adventures Aquarium at the Mall of America in Bloomington, where he's lived ever since.
This afternoon, Amelio will be lifted out of the tank, carted through the mall's hidden back hallways and taken to a pet clinic in Eagan for his bi-annual physical exam. He's expected to return to the mall later in the afternoon.
Mall security and aquarium staff will be on hand to assist with moving Amelio, the second-largest sea turtle at the aquarium.
Sea turtles live in tropical and subtropical ocean waters throughout the world. Of the seven species of sea turtles, six are found in U.S. waters, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
All seven species of marine turtles are listed as either threatened or endangered due to habitat destruction, pollution or fishing nets.