Sea turtle surgery
Throwing coins into a fountain is seen as lucky but not so for Piggy Bank who died after an operation to remove coins from her stomach at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

There has been an outpouring of public grief in Thailand following the death of a 25-year-old snapping sea turtle who died of blood poisoning after it was believed she had been saved by miracle surgery earlier this month.

Piggy Bank, a female green sea turtle, became famous with tourists who visited her as she ate nearly 1,000 good luck coins donated by visitors to her home in the eastern town of Sri Racha.

In Thailand it is commonly believed throwing coins on the turtles will bring good luck because of their usual lifespan of up eight decades.

However, Piggy Bank's popularity and the number of coins she ingested led to the shortening of her own life.

On 6 March, doctors at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University intervened to save the sea turtle, performing a seven hours' long surgery on her to remove the coins and cure blood poisoning.

Finally, despite the surgery, Piggy Bank slipped into a coma following a second operation and never woke up.

Local Dr Nantarika Chansue had to hold back tears as she told reporters the turtle had died a 10:10am. She paid tribute to Piggy Bank saying: "She is my friend, teacher and patient. She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed." The vet had previously removed 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of coins from the turtle's stomach.