Sunburst is a now-adult green sea turtle that has made a miraculous comeback against all odds, and now is ready to be released back into the wild. Sunburst was originally rescued in Florida five years ago when it was just an adolescent. The sea turtle was suffering from numerous flipper injuries (likely from a run in with a boat motor) that rendered it unable to move or dive.
After being discovered by good Samaritans and turned over to conservationists, Sunburst was relocated to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center where she received several emergency surgeries that saved her life, but it was not enough. She was deemed "non-releasable" and located to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium three years ago where she was given her name. Although caretakers from the Pittsburgh Zoo refer to Sunburst as a girl, its gender is actually still a mystery, as sea turtles are difficult to sex outside of mating season. Her name, Sunburst, was chosen due to her homeland of Florida, and as it was ambiguous enough to work for both a female and male green sea turtle.
Veterinarians claimed that Sunburst would never fully heal, but after the good care from Pittsburgh Zoo, she was on the mend. Zoo officials believed that she was doing so well, she may be able to actually return to her home in the Atlantic instead of living out her life within captivity. One final check by veterinarians in the service of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed it; the "non-releasable" sea turtle was ready to go back to the wild with the majority of her flipper mobility restored.
She made her last long road trip back home from Pennsylvania to Florida on Tuesday and released back into the ocean the following day where her caretakers from the zoo bid a tearful goodbye.