What two teenage girls filmed themselves doing to a threatened tortoise has the father of one of them saying he’ll support whatever the court decides as punishment and others calling for even more severe action against them.
“Burn baby, burn baby,” one of the teens said in a video they posted to Facebook Tuesday, which has since been removed.
The footage shows the girls, who commenters said were from Clay County, Florida, squirting a flammable liquid on a juvenile gopher tortoise and then lighting it on fire as it tried to walk away as quickly as possible.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received a number of complaints about the video and launched an investigation, saying on Facebook that it was working with the State Attorney’s Office to determine what charges may be filed.
In addition to burning the animal, the girls taunted it with a stick and threw it on the pavement, eventually stomping it to death while laughing.
“We just (expletive) committed a (expletive) murder on a turtle,” one girl said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Dead turtle everyone. That’s funny.”
Watch just a portion of the footage in WFTV-TV’s report (Content warning: images might still be considered graphic):
The father of one of the teens involved, who was not named, told WKMG-TV the girls are “very remorseful for what they did.”
“They’re going to go through the court system and get it all figured out, OK? And whatever the court system hands down, that’s what they’re gonna do,” the father told the news station, which noted that he said his family has received death threats since the incident.
“That’s sick to do what they did,” he said of the teens’ actions, later adding that they’re going to “catch the wrath of what happened.”
Watch WKMG’s report that includes the father’s thoughts on the incident:
“These psychos need to be behind bars before they decide its funny to do it to a person,” Michael Stormblade commented on the wildlife commission’s Facebook post about the investigation.
But others advocate for a more severe punishment.
“Instead let us dump alcohol on her and then set her on fire,” Andrew Walck wrote on Facebook. “That is reasonable punishment.”
The wildlife commission lists the gopher tortoise and its habitat as threatened. It’s a species that burrows, creating homes for more than 300 other species as well. The Florida Endangered and Threatened Species Act of 1977 prohibits “killing animals in cruel or inhumane ways that cause unjustifiable pain or suffering.”
WKMG reported that the girls could face felony charges.
Watch this video from the wildlife commission, which has more information on the gopher tortoise’s importance in the ecosystem as a whole: