Special turtle delivery at RDU

RALEIGH Click here for photos

Willy, a rare Kemp's Ridley sea turtle washed up on a UK shore more than a year ago. It's taken that long to get her back to our coast.

Kids with signs turned out to greet Willy after a seven hour flight. She travelled first class/coach inside a crate with a handler by her side.

Next stop for Willy is Topsail Beach - specifically the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.

Experts think Willy - short for Willamena - got lost in a storm, and that's how she ended up in England. The waters there are too cold for sea turtles, and it's amazing she survived.

She spent months recuperating at a rehabilitation center in Britain, and it took months more to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and arrange to get her home.

As an endangered species, the survival of just one turtle like Willy means she can grow up to lay eggs and help prevent extinction of her species.

Officials aren't sure how long it will be before she's released back into the wild.

This isn't the first time RDU has welcomed an exotic animal. We're told about ten years ago, a gorilla flew out - headed to the Chicago Zoo.

Copyright © 2023 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.