Wildlife rescue, conservation, and education are three key pillars in the efforts of Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium (WOW) in Springfield, MO. This year is WOW’s third year partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the non-profit Turtle Fly Too, to rescue cold-stunned loggerhead sea turtles. In January, WOW received 10 loggerhead sea turtles that were stranded on the coast near Cape Cod. The turtles suffered from cold stunning, which is a form of hypothermia caused by water temperatures that rapidly decline, leaving the animals lethargic and unable to move to warmer waters or reach food.
Conditions in the Northeast resulted in nearly 1,000 sea turtles washed ashore from cold stunning – making this year the third largest number of sea turtles found stranded on record out of the Northeastern United States. Care and rehabilitation take about 12 weeks, and loggerheads require a facility that can accommodate their larger size. WOW is one of the few facilities that has enough space to care for them, which makes it the only rescue, rehabilitation, and release center in the Midwest. “For our team to have a hand in the rehabilitation and future release back into the wild of these animals means so much to us,” said Mike Daniel, Director of Animal Care at WOW. “We want to do everything we can to make sure we don’t lose these amazing animals from the world’s oceans.”
Each turtle has a customized care plan based on its particular needs. For example, six of them had pneumonia, one had frost bite, and another had a fractured shell. The turtles are constantly monitored and adjustments made to achieve the fastest route to recovery, which include gradually warming the animals back to a stable body temperature and ensuring they can eat and swim normally. The goal is for each turtle to make a full recovery and be released back into the ocean. Each of the 10 turtles was named after local cities or towns in the Springfield, Missouri, area to thank the community for its support, and they have gained a following on social media.
This marks another year that each turtle has made a full recovery and will be released back into the ocean. Each of the 10 turtles was named after local cities or towns in the Springfield, Missouri, area to thank the community for its support, and they have gained a following on social media. Although the turtles are not on display to the public, guests can visit WOW’s two green sea turtles that were rescued and rehabilitated and on display in the Open Ocean exhibit. WOW has partnered with Mother’s Brewing Company in Springfield to help with conservation efforts. The brewery created a beer called Izzy Lager— named after one of WOW’s green sea turtles—that can be purchased throughout the area and proceeds are donated to WOW’s conservation efforts. To keep up to date on Wonders of Wildlife’s Sea Turtle Center, visit