'Go Bubba!': Massive 375 lb. sea turtle recovers at Brevard Zoo, released back to sea

Thanks to the Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center, a huge sea turtle is heading home. 

Zoo staff named him "Bubba" because he’s a big boy, weighing nearly 400 pounds. After a predator attacked him, he spent three months at the Brevard Zoo.

On Wednesday at 4 p.m., an entire chunk of the beach at Lori Wilson Park was bursting with beachgoers doing their best to see Bubba at his big sendoff. 

He's the first male loggerhead sea turtle the Brevard Zoo has been able to help, and now he’s healthy, healed, and back in the ocean. 

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"We were able to help it along with some additional antibiotics and some good nutrition," said Shanon Gann, the sea turtle program manager at the zoo.

He was injured in St. Lucie County and lost a flipper from a predator attack. 

He came in covered in leeches, which made him anemic. Today, he’s healthy and back where he should be, swimming in the open sea.


"You can do it, Bubba," said Meritt Matheny, who made a special sign for Bubba to hold up during the send-off. "Go, Bubba!"

Crowds flocked to Cocoa Beach to try and get a glimpse of the 60 to 75-year-old male loggerhead. 

"It was so exciting to know that he was rehabilitated and be put back into his normal environment. It was a wonderful thing," said Melinda Liller, who was visiting from Indiana. 

The zoo says it was one of their most significant turtle releases in terms of crowd size. 

"It took about six people to get Bubba on the sand because he weighs nearly 400 pounds.

"We’ve never seen a live turtle like that," said Joanna Hill, who was also visiting from Indiana. 

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many tourists who won’t forget Bubba’s big day. 

The zoo says seeing Bubba back in the ocean is a big deal because it’s sea turtle nesting season, and he can still breed. Vets say they’re hopeful his babies will end up somewhere here on the sand this summer.