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Tortoises found 'vandalized' in Florida

By
Ben Hooper
Two tortoises were found vandalized in the Orlando, Fla., area. Photo by Back To Nature Wildlife Refuge/Facebook
Two tortoises were found "vandalized" in the Orlando, Fla., area. Photo by Back To Nature Wildlife Refuge/Facebook

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A Florida wildlife center said two gopher tortoises were "vandalized" by culprits devoid of both artistic skills and common sense.

The Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge & Education Center said a gopher tortoise with its shell crudely colored and doused in glitter was found wandering in Pine Hills and a second tortoise with a similar paint job was found suffering from a fungal infection in Orlando's Blanchard Park.

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Orange County Animal Services brought the tortoises to the refuge.

"It will take multiple cleanings to remove the paint from each tortoise as well as healing time to get them back in good health. This is so disrespectful and we plead to you to share this with others to make it known that this is NOT OK and illegal!!" the center said.

TWO separate incidents in one day, of gopher tortoises (a federally protected threatened species), found "vandalized"....

Posted by Back To Nature Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shelter worker Debbie Helsel told WFTV the tortoise suffering from the infection is about 20 years old and was found "extremely dehydrated."

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"It is completely disrespectful to the animal to do something like this," she said.

Helsel said gopher tortoises use their shells to help them breath, making the paint jobs extra dangerous.

"Right underneath this [the shell] is just a very thin, thin shell where all their organs are," Helsel said.

"It's not fun. It's not funny. It's not healthy for the animal because it causes a lot of problems and this animal could end up losing its life over something like this," she said.

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