Often when you think of Japan, you think of their more – shall we say – quirky nature. I admit, I do my part to perpetuate that image, but it’s no real secret that they got a strong case of the weird over there. Often that weirdness is expressed through their obsession with technology, leading to such advancements as benign as the ice-pack bra or air conditioned shirt to the hugely weird Necomimi robotic cat ear attachments for women. But did you know they can use their combined powers of weirdness and advanced technology for good too? Yu does! And Yu couldn’t be more appreciative.
Stand down, all you vigilant defenders of grammar and spelling! What I meant is that Yu, the turtle.
Like I said, Yu can fully appreciate Japan’s idiosyncrasies as she has recently benefited from some good, old-fashioned kindness - Japan style – as she owes them not only her life, but her new prosthetic flippers, made to replace the ones she lost in a fight for her life five years ago.
Yu, a 25-year-old, endangered, loggerhead turtle, is a resident of the Suma Aqualife Park, in Kobe, Japan. In 2008, Yu had a run-in with a shark which she survived, but just barely. As luck would have it, she managed to get caught in a Japanese fishing net after her encounter and they were kind enough to take her to a port the island of Shikoku.
She was bloody and badly bitten and her front flippers were torn to shreds. Officials rushed her to Suma Aqualife where she spent years being nursed back to health. Yu pulled through, but her front flippers could not be saved, which meant almost all mobility was taken from her.
Many would have given up, given her condition, but the officials at the park aren’t among them. While nursing Yu back to health, they also put their focus into devising a way for Yu to be able to walk and swim again and enlisted the help of prosthetic-makers and scientists in order to achieve this goal. The park’s director general, Naoki Kamezaki, is one of those at Suma Aqualife who looks forward to Yu going back to living as close as she can to a normal life.
My dream for her is that one day she can use her prosthetic fins to swim to the surface, walk about, and dig a proper hole to lay her eggs in.
Twenty-seven attempts at perfecting Yu prosthetic flippers have been made so far, through great expense, times of frustration for the park’s officials and pain for Yu, they have continued to work. It looked like all that time and hard work had finally paid off when the latest attempt was officially declared a success on February 11. Unfortunately on Friday (Today) one of her new flippers came off and they had to go back to the drawing board.
This minor setback won’t frustrate the resolve of staff at Suma Aqualife Park and they continue to work toward a better day for Yu the loggerhead turtle.
I hope now you can see why I love that country so much.