AN ADORABLE baby albino turtle has provoked an outpouring of compassion online, because she was born with her heart beating OUTSIDE of her chest.
Images of tiny Hope have gone viral as animal-lovers bombard her caring owner, Mike Aquilina, with questions about her rare condition.
Aquilina – known as AquaMike on Instagram – has looked after the albino Pinkbelly Sideneck at home in New Jersey since being given her by his friend, who is a US turtle breeder in America.
Hope has such a rare condition that there isn’t a name for it in veterinary medicine, although it is dubbed ectopia cordis in humans.
Aquilina, 29, said: “Hope has impacted my life in so many ways it actually makes me emotional.
“She’s so small and so fragile, the most delicate thing, but she’s fearless.
“People can see that and she’s got so many people rooting for her around the world.
“She’s spreading hope while also giving me hope.
“Hope has changed my life for the better in such a short amount of time.”
He is using a common-sense approach to looking after his albino’s anomaly, which involves tiny Hope receiving extra-special care.
But unfortunately for the baby turtle, this means that she has to be kept separate from the other turtles for the foreseeable future.
Aquilina said: “I keep her water extra clean, give her a basking area that is as soft as possible and handle her as little as possible.
“I’ve gone for the more natural approach as to a completely sterile one.
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“The goal is to keep her deformity clean and her immune system strong.
“I can’t risk another turtle accidentally puncturing her heart cavity.”
People have been asking him on Instagram for updates on Hope, where they have labelled her as being a “little fighter”, “absolutely amazing” and “beautiful”.