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Mekong Market Turtle Rescue
Update: Semptember 26, 2010
A Small Battle Won, In A Greater War...

Seargant Pockets on patrol at TRL headquarters
A battle was won locally, stopping the sale of turtles for food. This is an important victory and we should all take heart in it. The Mekong Market is not, and will not be selling turtles as food. We can thank Founder Alexxia Bell and Premier Member Patty for their quick actions in pulling these turtles out of harms way, but also congradulate the many members, who got on their phones, talked to people, and made a difference. This is a team victory, TRL and its members played a part, but we also have to thank the Worcester Board of Health, Mass Wildlife: Fish and Game, Animal Control, PETA, and a score of other great organizations, who snapped into action to put an end to this travesty.

... and Shylo is outta here!
We should all feel proud of what we accomplished. Take a breath and enjoy this win, but let's look ahead, keep an eye on the greater goal, stopping turtles from being sold as food. We can win this battle too, but it will take time and perserverance. We also ask you, our members, as well as the general public, to keep an eye on the Mekong Market. Should turtles ever appear in this market again, we will be ready!

Below, is the story as it unfolded, with updates as they happened. We invite you to read about the entire incident.

September 13, 2010

Emergency! Emergency! Emergency!

Turtles being sold as food, Right here in Worcester, MA!!!
Get Direct Update!

Join the cause, saving these turtles. Show your support and make a difference.

Simply click to email Alexxia, President and Founder, and send your name and email address.

*** Not a Page For Younger Member ***

On Main Street in Worcester there is a Asian Market, which was selling turtles for food. Kept in terrible conditions, these turles are terribly sick and dying. Make no mistake, these weren't being sold as pets, but food at $3.49 a pound! This is not in some 3rd world nation, but right on Main Street in Worcester. After getting a report from Premier Member Patty we rushed down to minimumly purchase all the sick and mistreated turtles we could.

Four turtles in a bag being weighed.

Very sick turtle sitting in its own waste

Red-Eared Slider almost dead.

Sign on tank.

Where is this terrible place?

Mekong Market
747 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01610

We are currently filing reports with the Board of Health in Worcester as well as the FDA, which regulate turtle sales in this country. This is a horrible place, which needs to be watched for infractions. We can only hope the 4 rescued turtles survive.

You can help! Make calls, many local elections are upcoming; Selling turtles as food should be illegal in Massachussetts. California has a law already on the books. It is important to watch markets like Mekong Market. This is the only way we will prevent future occurances. Know important numbers like: Board of Health, local fish, game, and wildlife authorities, the environmental police, and the FDA.

Environmental Police: 1-800-632-8075
Mass Game and Wildlife: 508-389-6300
Worcester Board of Health: 508-799-8531
FDA Center for food safety: 1-888-723-3366

Awareness is the power to make change. Do not be afraid to contact newspaper, radio stations, or even voicing opinions at local town meetings. If people know of these autrocities, then we can bring about change!

We here at the TRL do not advocate or condone violence or illegal action. We are trying to save turtles and unlawful actions are detrimental to our cause.

Work Positive - Save Turtles! Remember, two wrongs doesn't make it right!

Update: September 18, 2010
Meet The Rescued Turtles

Seargent Pockets




From TRLs Founder...

Earlier today Alexxia, president and founder of the Turtle Rescue League sent out a eloquent and heart-felt letter to all the members or our organization. Rather than restating everything in this letter, we will post it in its entirety. In her own words, she updates the situation and makes a plee for all our continued efforts...

Here is the official UPDATE on the 4 turtles we rescued from the MEKONG MARKET in Worcester MA. We named the Turtles...Princess (female), Seargent Pockets (Big Grey Male), Tobassco (Female), Shylo (Female). We have determined that ALL of these turtles were at some point PET turtles.

SGT. Pockets ( named for his grey military like color, and the fact that he has cute little pockets near his back toes) has had his shell repaired with plaster and has metabolic bone disease , something like osteoporosis,( his rear leg bones are falling apart). A turtle rasied on a farm for food, or a wild caught turtle would not have this disease. ONLY TURTLES THAT HAVE BEEN A PET FOR YEARS WOULD BE ABLE TO GET THIS. It comes from not getting sun rays, for his entire life. ( someone that kept him did not give him proper lights). Currently he is getting ani-biotics, medication for his shell rot, calcium supplements and other vitamins to help him recover and help build up his bones.

Princess (named because she is just too sweet, and very gentle, an absolute doll) ..fell into septic shock, from being kept in her own waste for weeks and weeks. She was blind in both eyes and had SEVERE shell rot, and a severe respiratory disease, and Pnuemonia, sever dehydration and because she could not see, she did not eat for weeks. There is no Doubt that this turtle was at some point in the past... someones pet. The Doctors tried everything they could to help her, but she was not able to hold on. She died friday morning 9-17-10. The important thing is... she was given her dignity back, given a name, and Love in her last few days .I can remember holding her in my hand and stroking her little head, telling her I would not let her end up on someones dinner table. In her last days she enjoyed relaxing under our sunlight. She was a fighter... she was only with us for a couple days... but I can assure you, she touched our hearts...I can still remember taking her out of her box here at our facility after we cleaned her up.. and she just started walking around, as if she knew where she was...I picked her up and looked at her little face and said..." hey.. Where do you think your going?". She was very sweet.. and she will be missed!

Shylo ( named for the fact she seems a bit shy) is suffering from Pnuemonia and has one blind eye, and has some shell rot,she is in pretty tough shape. We are hoping she will pull through. She is on medications, vitamins, and eye drops and getting daily soaks and sunlight in our facility. She too was someones pet. She is a fighter and we are all hoping she turns that corner, and makes a full recovery. She enjoys being under our sunlight here and when she is under it.. pulls her head all the way out and falls asleep... IT IS SO ADORABLE.

Tobassco is by far the best shape of all the turtles... We named her Tobassco because she is quite a very lively turtle. She is on meds too... and she is actually eating ( a lot) and she seems to be doing pretty good for a turtle that was so abused. She is no doubt a former pet. She actually will come up out of the water and swim over to you and eat right out of your hand... and if you happen to have your hand on the egde of the tank.. even without food.. she will come up and nudge your fingers... ( kinda like a dog will do) ... she is very sweet...and has very expressive eyes... and I have a feeling she will make a full recovery...

There is NO DOUBT in our minds.. or the VETS mind... that these were all former pets. When people buy a pet turtle it is small and cute... they dont realize that it will get 12 inches long , or more. Of course it requires a larger tank , more food and lives for 40 yrs, and the like. So, they give it up to someone else. At some point somewhere down the line... someone is collecting former pet turtles... and selling them to supermarkets for food. We have to stop this!!!!! Whats next??? Dogs ??? Cats???

We need everyone to contact their senators, local representatives and officials to stop this. Feel free to tell them about the Turtle Rescue League WEBSITE... where they can see pics and stories... We will be updating the page.. and putting up pics of all the turtles we saved.



Alexxia Bell
Turtle Rescue League

Update: September 21, 2010
Health Inspection and an Aggreement

The day of the rescue, Co-founder, Natasha, called in a report to the Worcester Board of Health (see phone number above), to report the incident at the Mekong Market. Confirming her report of the previous evening, she called the Board of Health back to discover they already dispatched an inspector out, first thing that morning. During this first week, a number of agencies inspected the market including, animal control and Mass Wildlife.

We at TRL feel it is despicable to sell turtles for food, but there is two overriding factors that elivate this situation from morally ambigious, to ethically wrong as well as illegal. First is the fact that these turtles were being kept in deplorable conditions and second, it shouldn't surprise, that the owner of the market couldn't produce documentation (Invoice tags) for the turtles.

When dealing with fresh seafood (yes, turtles are counted as such), it is required that store owners must keep invoice tags for all items for 90 days. In the case of a food borne illness outbreak, it is these tags that help the Board of Health, the FDA, the USDA, and the CDC track down the source. Selling live food without tags (meaning these turtles were acquired from unknown and possibly illicit sources), poses a serious risk to human health.

The Worcester Board of Health should be commended for their quick reaction. The dirty and fouled display case, with its open back and exposed water was merely one of several infractions. Without a doubt the Health Inspector prevented illnesses with this inspection. The owner of the Mekong Market cooperated with the health inspector in correcting these infractions. Part of these corrections is the agreement that the Mekong Market will not sell Turtles anymore.

This is our first victory and it should be celebrated. Not only were three turtles saved from eminent death (being purchased and killed or else succombing to illness as poor little Princess), but scores of possible future victims, being piled into this dirty stinking display case. We should feel proud of this victory, but remember there is a larger war to win. There is no reason to be selling turtles as food in a modern world and if we pull together, we can make this a legal reality.

Thanks everyone for your hard work and efforts!

Update: September 23, 2010
Turtles on the Mend

Tobassco enjoys a quiet bask
This evening at TRL headquarters, Seargent Pockets and Shylo finally started eating! Tobassco, our spicey little rescue, started eating about a week ago, just before the big visit to the hospital, Natick Animal Clinic **(See special thanks at bottom of page). However, our other two surviving rescues, Sgt. Pockets and Shylo, resolutely refused food. Watching them with grave concern, we attempted to entice them with all manner of food. The option of having a feeding tube put in was always at the back of our minds, but with sick turtles, keeping the stress levels down is paramount.

So, after the TRL team ate a quick meal of Mac-n-Cheese out of a box, we played our ace card and attempted to feed our turtles some wild caught Alaskan Red Salmon. After a few moments of sniffing, the Sarge started eating. With great joy, and our fingers crossed, we moved on to Shylo's tub. Concern was rather high, since she was the second sickest turtle, just behind Princess.
Shylo after a good meal
Shylo had recently taken to shutting her one good eye most of the time and moving little. Bringing the fish right before her, we held our breaths and waited... Hesitantly, at first, Shylo started eating. Eyes still closed she ate more and more, with increasing vigor.

We are happy to report all three turtles are doing much better. The road to full recovery is a long one and sadly most of these turtles will carry permanent issues away from this situation. However, they will heal and when they are better, we will be looking for a great home for these three survivors, so that they never land into such terrible peril again.

Natasha Nowick, TRL

Get Direct Update!

Join the cause, saving these turtles. Show your support and make a difference.

Simply click to email Alexxia, President and Founder, and send your name and email address.

Donations Help Turtles

These turtles need continued medical attention, as well as, food and housing while they recover.

Any donation is greatly apreciated, from as little as a couple of dollars up. No turtle is ever lacking at our facility, but your gifts help us do more. Every cent of every donation goes directly to saving these turtles.

** Special Thanks to Natick Animal Clinic

We have mentioned and thanks many organizations who helped stop Mekong Market from selling pet turtles as food. However, We would be remiss in our duties if we did not send a heart felt thank you to the Natick Animal Clinic. This is a wonderful place with amazing and caring staff. The Natick Animal Clinic worked with us on prices and services, making the amazing recovery, of our three survivors, possible. We recommend anyone needing vet services, go and see the folks down at Natick Animal Clinic.


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