LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA — Florida's animal agency is looking for answers after a poor tortoise was found earlier this week near Orlando completely covered in what appears to be red spray paint.
According to Florida's fish and wildlife conservation commission, two people picked up a gopher tortoise on County Road 455 in the town of Montverde, about 30 miles west of Orlando.
The pair then took the tortoise to a wildlife rehabber called Swamp Girls Adventures, the group took the tortoise in and named it Raphael, after one of the Ninja Turtles.
The group said they have been able to get the tortoise about 70 percent cleaned up after gently chipping away concrete and attempting to get the red paint off.
According to FWCC, if toxins from the paint are absorbed, it can damage the tortoise's organs. The paint itself can also prevent it from getting nutrients from sunlight, and damagingly seal the tortoise skin. If the tortoise breathes the paint in, it can cause respiratory issues.
Kim Titterington, who runs Swamp Girl Adventures, told FOX35 that the group hopes to help the tortoise recover completely and release him back into nature. Titterington also said she believes this wasn't an accident where the tortoise simply got too close to a painting site — someone intentionally colored him red.
FWCC is appealing to the public to contact them with any information on how the tortoise ended up this way.