Just days after it was saved from a cooking pot in a Mong Kok seafood restaurant, a critically endangered Hawksbill turtle has died at Ocean Park.
The park said the turtle had "marked gastroenteritis" when it died on Sunday and had probably eaten "non-food material".
Although it appeared to be in good condition when it arrived at the park on Thursday, it had refused to eat and was found to be underweight. There was also a fish hook in its gullet.
A post-mortem examination showed it had a tumour in its intestines and other abnormalities.
Restaurant owner Ng Pak-yan, who bought the turtle from an angler who had caught it and wanted him to cook it, said he was "definitely sad" to learn of its death. "It appeared to be so lively before the media, now it is suddenly dead," he added.
"I was happy that fate brought it to me, but now it's dead."
The 36cm-long turtle weighing 5kg was caught off Ma Wan by an angler who took it to Ng's Royal Dragon Seafood Cuisine in Mong Kok on Tuesday to have it cooked. The restaurateur, who said he has bought other marine creatures from customers to set them free, suggested that it should be released. He eventually paid the angler a five-digit sum and planned to release it.
The turtle, estimated to be between 10 and 20 years old, was picked up by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department which handed it over to Ocean Park for veterinary care on Thursday. It was expected to be released back into the wild if its health allowed.
Officials said all sea turtle species were protected and that having or trading in them could be punished by a fine of up to HK$5 million and two years in jail.
A spokesman for the department said it would examine the turtle to confirm the cause of death.