Sun Country Airlines will welcome an unusual passenger aboard its Ft. Myers-bound flight 381 on Wednesday morning. One of the world’s most endangered species, a loggerhead turtle, was smuggled into Minnesota last fall and will be returned to Florida where it will be released back into its natural habitat within the next few months.
Due to the size of the container carrying the loggerhead, the turtle will fly in first class and will be accompanied by a representative from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
“We pride ourselves on the top notch service we provide our customers and this situation is no exception. I hope this is the best flying experience this little creature ever has,” said Wendy Blackshaw, Director of Marketing at Sun Country.
Once it arrives in Fort Myers, the 7.5lb turtle will be temporarily placed at The Conservancy of South West Florida before being released into the ocean within the year. Due to predators and habitat loss, only one in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings make it to adulthood.
The reddish-brown creatures are named for their super sized heads and have been listed as a threatened species in the Federal Register since 1978. The Zoo could not keep the turtle indefinitely due to regulations that state all healthy turtles be released into the wild.
Due to the loggerhead’s environmental requirements, Sun Country will transport the turtle within the climate controlled cabin. “We are happy to provide the necessary transportation to aid in the survival of this special turtle. We just hope that he will tell all his friends what a great trip he had,” continued Blackshaw.