October 22, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Turtle riding

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Colin Wilsonweb2On December 30th 2015 we published another petition to “stop cruelty at Cayman Islands Turtle Farm”.

The petition carried the same information about cruelty to the turtles, their “fight for space in cramped and dirty tanks”, tourists picking them up “out of the water and handled by oblivious tourists every day”, and “slaughtered for human consumption”.

“Unfortunately, Tripadvisor recently awarded the farm the 2015 Certificate of Excellence. The award is based purely on positive reviews from tourists who visited the attraction unaware that handling turtles can hurt them. It is also doubtful that many of the visitors knew the baby turtles their kids were holding would end up on someone’s dinner plate someday.”

Obviously the petitioner did not read the Cayman Compass story written by and published 21st December 2015.

I rarely read our other local media house stories unless through Google Alerts I see something that I knew nothing about. And Duncan’s story blew my mind.

“Shell shock over turtle-riding scheme” was the headline.

The story centered around an ex-employee at the Turtle Farm named who, according to the story, quit in 2013 “because of the conditions in which turtles and other animals were kept at the West Bay tourist attraction”. She now works with a grey seal rehabilitation programme. She started work at the Turtle Farm in October 2012.

The story says: “Her former partner had trained green sea turtles in St. Thomas to come to tourists and let them scrub their shells with brushes.” She said she expected this was what she was hired to do at the .

She was wrong.

“She said she discovered that , Cayman Turtle Farm director, and other leaders at the attraction wanted her to develop turtle rides.

“I physically laughed,” she said, “I kept waiting for them to say they were joking.”

But they weren’t.

“I thought it was a ridiculous idea,” Ms. Souster said.

Ridiculous?

Turtle rides?

We are not talking about horses but turtles. Put a person on a bull and see how the bull reacts.

Even wild horses have to “be broken” to allow anyone to ride on them.

Turtles. Hold on to their shells and go for a ride.

And the Compass article quotes Tim Adam, who recently was caught on video raging at one of his employees, as saying, “We had proven that it was possible.” He also said earlier training had taught the green sea turtle [called Myrtle] to approach tourists and allow them to hold on to her shell and give rides.

The programme, thankfully, was abandoned because Myrtle “introduced salmonella into the public swimming area, and it became too hard to clean.”

“It wasn’t the right time to do it,” Mr. Adam said. Nevertheless, he said, “It was so cool to watch, and the people loved it.”

I can only imagine the wrath of World Animal Protection at that and the enormous amount of adverse publicity following.

We would have demonstrations, banner waving and the world press on our backs that would have forced the Cayman Turtle Farm to close its doors.

Look at the publicity already given for tourists taking turtles out of the water and handling them?

Perhaps we could have the Turtle Farm staff swimming around and giving rides to the turtles. The turtles could ride perched on the back of the humans.

That might be an attraction with Adam leading them.

I would love that.

Turtle rides on backs of humans. Human riding.

The Cayman Compass article can be found at: http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2015/12/21/Shell-shock-over-turtle-riding-scheme/

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