MISSISSIPPI STRONG: Turtle Rescuers - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
FLORENCE, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A couple in Florence has taken on an unusual mission in life: turtle doctoring.

It started out as a one-time good-deed but has turned into a full-time operation. Central Mississippi Turtle Rescue has more than two hundred injured turtles in their care right now.

It wasn’t Christy and Luke Milbourne’s idea to turn their home into a turtle hospital. But you take what life brings you. And it has brought them turtles.

"Back in 2006 a neighbor where we used to live found a three-legged turtle on a burn pile he was about to set light to," said Christy. "So he comes knocking on the door with this turtle and says, can you help this turtle he’s only got three legs. Not knowing at the time I thought the turtle did need rescuing. But that sort of started it. We took in that turtle and then friends found out that we could maybe help turtles and they’d start bringing us turtles and our vet started referring people to bring us turtles. It sort of evolved from there."

Evolved to this; a holding area with large containers of water out in the front yard where turtles waiting to be released or adopted are kept. To the turtle ICU in their house where the most delicate of the cases are kept until they are ready for the half-way house, sort of; half way between the ICU and the waiting containers out front. And there are turtles with all sorts of injuries in all sorts of stages of recuperation all over the place.

Turtles that have been hit by cars, that is probably our most common," said Christy. "What most people don’t realize is if you hit a turtle it doesn’t necessarily die. They can sustain some pretty horrific injuries and live for days suffering because they experience pain just like you and I do."

There’s an alligator snapping turtle with a bad disposition out front who will be going to the new Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport when it opens since he can’t be returned to the wild.

And a regular old snapping turtle who is quick on the draw.

A sea tortoise that was a north Mississippi pet but couldn’t take the winters there now is a permanent fixture under the Milbourne’s front porch. There are common turtles to endangered species under care here.

"We get run down occasionally, but we wouldn't have it any other way said Christy. "When I am able to release a turtle that would have died had we not stepped in it’s worth it. It’s always worth it in the end.

You have found your reason for life when you find your “It’s worth it.” For the Milbournes it’s turtles.

Central Mississippi Turtle Rescue has a web page and a Facebook page where you can find out how you can help.

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