Gopher Tortoise Once Painted Red Released Back Into The Wild

July 6, 2016

A gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) that was brought into the von Arx Wildlife Hospital in Florida with thick red paint on its shell and body has been released back into the wild after staff at the hospital spent about four days removing as much of the paint as they could from the tortoise’s head, shell and legs. 

A torrtoise’s shell that is painted prevents a tortoise from receiving much needed ultraviolet light that helps them to produce vitamin D3, which is essential to their health. This incident is a blatant case of animal abuse, and if you see such an act, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida urges you to report it. 

PLEASE SHARE to help make sure this doesn't happen again! This gopher tortoise was admitted to the von Arx Wildlife...

Posted by Conservancy of Southwest Florida on Friday, July 1, 2016

According to Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, staff used a soy-based, non-toxic product to scrub the red paint off the shell, but because the tortoise became quickly agitated as they worked to remove the paint, it took several applications over four days to remove most, but not all of the paint.

“Sadly this isn’t the first tortoise we have encountered that has been painted,” Fitzgerald wrote on the Conservancy of Southwest Florida website. “And while we have had success removing paint using a non-toxic soy based product, the challenge is the product must sit for 20 minutes before being wiped off.”

The tortoise had to be sedated to remove the paint from her head and legs because she was just too active for the staffers to successfully remove the paint without sedation. After four days in the hospital, she was released back into the wild.

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