The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is now open to the public. Huge crowds gathered outside the new hospital in Surf City for a tour on Thursday.
Meanwhile, more than 30 turtles continue to receive care at the former hospital on the mainland side of Surf City.
Jean Beasley opened the hospital in a 900-square-foot building on Topsail Island in 1997. The new hospital is more than 13,000 square feet.
"Everything has a place on the planet and they're all a part of the fabric of life and they should be respected for that," says Beasley. "It's what holds the environment and the planet together. Every time we lose one of those species, the fabric of life is a little weaker."
The hospital is named after Beasley's daughter Karen who passed away at age 30 of cancer. Beasley says Karen loved turtles and requested her life insurance money go to protecting and rescuing the animals.
The not-for-profit hospital now charges admission fees of $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and active-duty military, and $3 for children.
Tours are from noon until 4 p.m. daily except Wednesdays and Sundays.