INDIAN HARBOR BEACH, Fla. - This was not what Kelley and her sons expected to stumble upon at Gleason Park in Indian Harbor Beach Monday.
But, this is what they found: A gopher tortoise with its shell covered in marker.
"We were just pretty much outraged. I wasn’t sure how to get the ink off or if I should even try," Kelley said.
Names were written in marker all over it. She snapped a photo and called Florida Fish and Wildlife officials.
An officer came out, but by the time they arrived, the tortoise was gone.
"It’s just sad to see that this animal was handled that way when it was so trusting," Kelley said.
Kelley says the thing about these tortoises is they have no fear and they come right up to you, so she’s not all that surprised that it got so close to a couple of kids.
"It’s kind of neat because you can just through here and just walk right here amongst them and they trust us so they depend upon us to be good to them," Kelley said.
Graffiti on the shell of a protected species is not something Florida Fish and Wildlife officials take lightly.
They tracked down the children who did this.
Wildlife officials say they were under the age of 12. Officers explained to them and their parents why they can’t draw on animals.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say the children will now be doing community service for Indian Harbor Beach police.
"I think they’re so young and they can learn from this. I just was outraged and saddened to see that somebody would treat an animal like that," Kelley said.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say it’s unlikely the graffiti will cause any harm to the tortoise.