Electrician’s carelessness killed 10 giant tortoises

NEWS AND COMMENT: You may remember the story of 10 giant tortoises found in woodland dead. People scratched their heads as to what had happened. We now know.

Aldabra tortoise. An illustration created by DALLE.E mark 3.
Aldabra tortoise. An illustration created by DALLE.E mark 3. The image is free to use under a Creative Commons license. Click on the image to see the larger version and download it to your laptop.

The tortoises were being looked after by an electrician who’d apparently had a fascination with tortoises for many years. He had rigged up some sort of heating device to keep them warm because this species of tortoise need warmth. But his device failed and they froze to death in combination with ‘poor husbandry’; the conclusion of a post-mortem examination. The exact cause of death was “metabolic bone disease”.

The owner’s name is Gary Priddle, 56. The Times tells us that he “had failed to check on the pets late last year and returned home to find them frozen to death after a heat lamp he had wired up failed”.

He decided to dump the bodies of the Aldabra tortoises on National Trust woodland near his home in Exeter and did so between December 29, 2023 and January 2, 2024.

He was tried at Exeter Magistrates Court under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 where he pleaded guilty to dumping the bodies.

He received a 12 month community order in combination with 50 hours of unpaid work and thirdly he was banned from keeping tortoises for 10 years.

Aldabra tortoises are one of two giant tortoise species which can grow to 1.2 m in length and weigh up to one quarter of a tonne. They are among the world’s largest and have a life expectancy between 100-150 years.

After the tortoises were found in woodland the Devon and Cornwall police appealed to the public for information. They were eventually contacted by a local citizen who had seen similar tortoises at Priddle’s address for sale.

The RSPCA and police officers attended the property where Priddle admitted being responsible for the tortoises that had been found dead.

He surrendered 13 adult and 40 baby Hermann’s tortoises to the police. A species native to Europe.

His defence lawyer at court said it was a one-off isolated incident and that he had cared for tortoises “for virtually all of his life”. And he sold them for profit.

Comment: it’s ironic that an electrician screwed up in ensuring that his electrical device worked properly to keep the tortoises warm through very cold days last winter.

RELATED: Tortoises can help us understand how to live longer, but do we want to?

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Post Category: Tortoise