LOOK: Turtles with ‘painted shells’ sold at pet shop in Mandaluyong
A pet shop caught the attention of netizens recently and had been called out for allegedly selling turtles with “painted shells.”
A concerned citizen saw the animals at the Bio Research shop in SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City on Jan. 19 and posted about it on Facebook on the same day. The netizen spotted the turtles when she went inside the store to look at some fish with her cousins, she told INQUIRER.net.
The red-eared slider turtles had their shells covered by glossy drawings of cartoon characters such as those from Pokemon and Hello Kitty. They were supposedly being sold for P400 each at the time.
Upon seeing the animals, the concerned citizen’s group asked the store’s employees if painting the turtles’ shells is legal. However, she noted that “no one [seemed] to bother” when faced with the question.
“It really saddened us and I took pictures intended to post to ask the public or whoever’s expert WHY,” she said.
Regarding the legality of painting a turtle’s shell, there are no specific laws in the Philippines that classify the act as illegal, a veterinarian affiliated with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Biodiversity Management Bureau told INQUIRER.net.
The veterinarian (name withheld per request) noted that the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 (R.A. No. 9147) had a provision which states “inflicting injury which cripples and/or impairs the reproductive system of wildlife species” is considered an illegal act. However, he could not conclude if the paint was harmful to the turtles since the type used was not revealed by the pet shop.
Meanwhile, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that painting a turtle’s shell is dangerous. The statement was issued in 2016 when it found gopher tortoises with colored shells.
“Gopher tortoises and freshwater turtles get vitamins they need to grow and stay healthy by absorbing the sun’s UV rays through their shells – paint or nail polish can block these needed rays,” the group said in a Facebook post at the time.
“Paint fumes can also cause respiratory problems, and chemicals can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the shell,” it added.
The wildlife organization also stressed that painting a gopher tortoise’s shell is illegal. They cited that the specific tortoise is protected by state law, as stated in Chapter 68A-27 of the Florida Administrative Code. They did not clarify if other kinds of turtles and tortoises were protected by the same law.
When asked about the painted turtles, a representative from Bio Research named Beth told INQUIRER.net that they did not personally paint the shells. She also explained that the animals were imported from China and were simply consigned to their SM Megamall branch.
The turtles have since been removed from the store and returned to the consignor, after the netizen’s post circulated online. JB
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