ORANGE PARK, Fla., July 17 (UPI) -- A household is receiving death threats on Facebook after two girls posted videos of themselves torturing and killing a small gopher tortoise -- a rare and threatened species in South Florida.
In two videos posted online, but since deleted, the girls can be seen lighting the turtle on fire and throwing it down the street. Later, one of them stomps on the turtle until its shell breaks and its innards ooze onto the sidewalk -- each of them laughing throughout.
"Let's light his head on fire," one of the girls can be heard saying. "Burn baby, burn baby," the other says.
At present, it's not clear whether the two girls are related or not. Law enforcement officials confirmed the two girls are aged 15 and 18 and attend Ridgeview High School.
Local wildlife officials were alerted by schoolmates who saw the videos and were understandably disturbed.
"We received quite a few complaints about this and a call from the Sheriff's Office, so we had an officer go out last night," said Karen Parker, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman. "Everybody is pretty much sickened by it and can't believe someone would do that to an innocent animal."
"Our officers are investigating the case and are presently working with the State Attorney's Office to determine what charges may be filed," Parker's office confirmed in a Facebook post yesterday.
Approached by a WJXT news reporter, the father of at least one of the girls said: "They're gonna catch the wrath of what happened, the court's gonna handle it." But the father said he didn't agreewith the threats his family was receiving online. "There's no more Facebook in this house. There's no more smartphones."