Humans truly have a warped view when it comes to coexisting with animals. From a young age, we are ingrained with the idea that animals are ours for the taking. We can call a petting zoo company and get a dozen animals delivered to our house like a pizza pie, companies sell kits that allow children to capture cockroaches and turn them into little robots of sorts, and of course, every day we kill millions of animals to satisfy our appetite for meat.
When this is the norm in society, it’s not all that surprising when we witness people treat animals like property as opposed to beings. In Florida, for instance, people have been painting tortoise shells so frequently that recently the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had to issue a statement asking people to stop.
Why is painting a tortoise or turtle shell uncool? Well, the obvious reason is that these are living creatures, not walking blank canvases. The Florida Commission said it perfectly: “turtles and tortoises do not need touch ups!”
Furthermore, the paint put on shells can have serious effects on the health of these animals. As the commission relayed, “the paint can hinder their ability to absorb vitamins they need from the sun, it can cause respiratory problems, and can also allow toxic chemicals into the bloodstream.” And those are just a few of the negative repercussions the paint can have. Painted shells can also make turtles and tortoises more vulnerable to predators since, you know, they kind of evolved to blend into the environment…
Considering the fact that the gopher tortoise is already a threatened species in Florida, the idea that people are painting these tortoises and making them more susceptible to predation is not only cruel, it literally has the potential to kill off this species. Despite what society has taught us to believe, humans and animals are actually very similar. One is not a being and the other an object, they are both coexisting on one planet just trying to survive.
Hopefully, this announcement will bring this truth to light and help people realize that this practice is not okay. If you happen to stumble upon a turtle with a painted shell, do not try to remove the paint yourself, call a wildlife official or rehab center for assistance, here are some that might help!
Image source: MyFWC/Facebook