A rescued Gopher Tortoise from Florida is making progress in rehabilitation after unknown human abusers slathered its shell with concrete and spray-painted it red.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC for short) is offering a reward for information that could identify whomever abused an endangered Gopher Tortoise. The redecorated reptile was spied by a couple of good samaritans as it was making its slow and deliberate way across County Road 455, south of Montverde, Florida.
The Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus), listed as a“vulnerable” species on the IUCN Red List, was designated Florida's official state tortoise in 2008. Sadly, the honor hasn't resulted in any additional respect – at least, not from the person or persons responsible for this case of egregious (and illegal, by the way) animal abuse.
Tortoises and turtles can suffer life-threatening harm if man-made substances such as paint or concrete are applied to any areas of their bodies, including their shells. Tortoises absorb vitamins from sunlight through their shells but substances such as paint inhibit their ability to do so. They can also suffer respiratory problems and toxic chemicals in the paint can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
The FWC posted photos of the tortoise (taken by Kim Titterington) at their Facebook, and are asking the public to contact Wildlife Alert with any information. Tips are considered to be anonymous and helpful tippers may be eligible for a monetary reward.