Two Florida teens are in serious trouble after posting a video online of them abusing and ultimately killing a threatened gopher tortoise.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say they received multiple complaints after the video was first posted online, and now, police in Orange Park are investigating.
In the video, the two girls can be seen picking up the threatened animal, lighting it on fire, throwing it on the concrete, and stomping on it until it’s dead. Ridgeview High School confirmed to news sources that the teens go to school there, but they were unable to comment further, as the incident took place outside of school property.
The father of one of the girls is speaking out, however, and says he will support any decision that the court makes if his daughter is charged.
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“They’re very remorseful for what they did,” the father, who asked to remain anonymous, told News 4 Jax. “They’re gonna go through the court system and get it all figured out, OK. Whatever the court system hands down, that’s what they’re gonna do. That’s sick to do what they did. I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it on TV, and I don’t care. I was there when they found the turtle. I was there when wildlife [came to the house and] talked for an hour. And they know that there’s gonna be a court date coming up, and it’s all going to be handled.”
A spokesperson for the FWC says the gopher tortoise is at a threatened level, which is one level above endangered, and killing one of these animals is actually illegal in the state.
"We certainly don't want anybody hurting any animal, but they're a threatened species, and it's against the law to kill harass or destroy gopher tortoises, their eggs or their burrows," FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker said.
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It’s not clear if the teens have officially been charged with anything. Police say the investigation is ongoing.