Farewell and Thank You Bonnie!

by Jordan Gray 

“This past week, we said goodbye to Dr. Bonnie Raphael, the heart and soul of this operation for the past month, but not before celebrating her birthday with a fine celebration. Big jobs call for big personalities and Bonnie rose to the occasion as she always does. She is, as I am fond of saying, a true force of nature. Thanks for giving it your all Bonnie Raphael, the TSA loves you and I can’t imagine tacking a crisis of this magnitude without you. Unless the world changes, it looks like you won’t get much rest in retirement! You will always have a home with the TSA.

Dr. Bonnie Raphael discusses treatment of a juvenile Radiated Tortoise with Dr. Sean Perry (LSU).

Upon leaving Madagascar, Bonnie passed the veterinary torch to Dr. Sean Perry (LSU), who has rapidly gotten up to speed with an amazingly organized team representing Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, LSU, Denver Zoo, Fort Worth Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Dallas Zoo, Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, and the Association of Zoological Veterinary Technicians. We also bid farewell to Dr. Pete Koplos whose assistance was invaluable; thanks to the Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group for sponsoring his trip. And, as usual, you don’t realize how much work someone does till they are gone. TSA/Utah’s Hogle Zoo Tortoise Conservation Center keeper extraordinaire Tsito Rehoahy had all tortoises fed and watered by the time our crew arrived in the morning. He too left this past week to accompany the 1,961 tortoises being transferred to our TSA facility near Itampolo.

Dr. Bonnie Raphael celebrates her birthday in Madagascar with Team Radiata 2 and 3!

In the coming weeks, we will still need amazing wildlife warriors to travel to Madagascar to provide veterinary and animal care for the thousands of tortoises; our mission is far from over. Although many of the tortoises are doing quite well, relatively speaking, we continue to see new animals that need veterinary treatment on a daily basis, as well as numerous animals who desperately need that extra “push” to make it through this ordeal. Sadly, animals also continue to die each day, despite our greatest efforts. We must not, and cannot take our “foot off the gas” during this critical time.”

– Rick Hudson (President – TSA)

Drs. Bonnie Raphael, Pete Koplos (TTPG), Matt O’Connor (Shedd Aquarium), and Matt Marinkovich (San Diego Zoo) share a beer after a long day providing treatment to hundreds of Radiated Tortoises.

To find out how you, your representative institution, or private practice can volunteer professional services in the coming weeks, please contact Andrew Walde directly at awalde@turtlesurvival.org. Furthermore, the TSA and our partners are in this for the long-haul. You can aid us in this lengthily and costly mission by DONATING TODAY. Your donation will DIRECTLY SAVE THE LIVES of Radiated Tortoises and help guide them back to long life in Madagascar!

You can support these passionate medical specialists, provide medical supplies, and help save tortoises by DONATING TODAY!

Tsito Rehoahy examines a juvenile Radiated Tortoise during his morning routine of feeding and watering the tortoises.