The images of a rare albino turtle baby surfaced, thrilling spectators and marine life enthusiasts alike.
However, this tiny reptile, called Hope, has a big difference compared to most other albino turtles: its beating heart is outside of its body.
Hope's owner, Mike Aquilina, said that he was taking care of the tiny turtle at his home in New Jersey after buying it from a fellow breeder.
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"Hope has had an impact on my life in so many ways that it makes me really emotional," said Aquilina in comments obtained by The Daily Mail. "She is so small and so fragile, the most delicate thing but she is afraid of nothing."
"People can see this and she has so many people rooting it all over the world," said Aquilina, 29. "It spreads hope while giving me hope. Hope has changed my life for the better in so little time."
Veterinary medicine has not yet given its name to this disease, although a similar disease, called ectopia cordis, affects humans. It is observed in one in 126,000 births, according to Health Line.
Although its cause is not known precisely, it is thought that it could be due to chromosomal abnormalities, intrauterine drug exposure or rupture of a fetal membrane or other abnormalities. a yolk sac.
Although most fetuses with this condition are stillborn (in rare cases, some babies survived the first few days and in an extremely rare case, the disease was repaired in utero), Hope works. But Aquilina said he used "common sense" and provided him with extra care, including making sure his water was "perfectly clean" and handling it as little as possible.
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"I have opted for a more natural approach than that of a completely sterile approach," he said. The goal is to keep his deformity clean and his immune system strong. I can not risk that another turtle accidentally punctures its heart chamber. "
He added that she might be exposed to other turtles if she is less susceptible to infections, but "[f]or now she must live in a bubble. "
Her food and medical supplies are provided, allowing Hope to swim and enjoy her life, added Aquilina, adding that there is currently no plan to address this problem.
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