Two Teen Girls Set Endangered Gopher Tortoise on Fire
July 24, 2014 Update: There is a Change.org petition asking the Florida state attorney general to give these girls the maximum punishment allowable by law. It currently needs 427 more signatures to reach it’s goal of 10,000.
Two obviously sick teenaged girls in Florida have received a ton of flack (and rightfully so) for torturing a young gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), dousing it with a flammable liquid and setting it ablaze, and when that didn’t kill it, throwing it and stomping the poor reptile into the ground. The girls captured the entire event on video and posted it to their Facebook page, where it went viral. The girls, who repeatedly say they are bored in the video take pleasure in inflicting great harm to the chelonian, which is in serious distress as it is tortured.
Karen Parker a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was so sickened by the video she could not finish watching it. The commission received an anonymous tip and is working with the state’s attorney’s office to determine what charges, if any, will be filed against the animal abusers. “People are really outraged by this,” Parker said.
Properly cared for gopher tortoises can live well into their 70s.
Gopher tortoises are listed as threatened species in the state of Florida. Both the tortoise and their burrow are protected. They reach maturity at 10-15 years of age and are considered a long lived tortoise. Some reports have them living well into their 70s, with one specimen living continuously at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, Nova Scotia aged at 71 years.
John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata