It’s not so much that Otis Moore is an animal lover – although he is – but he’s also a history buff. And as such, he appreciates the turtle’s place in the grand scheme of things.
âIt’s all about history, and realistically the turtle in my eyes is like one of the last remaining dinosaurs,â he said. “It actually looks like a dinosaur.”
In the case of one turtle in particular, named Goblin, the threat of extinction, the fate of the dinosaurs, was high. That is, until Goblin is taken over by Wildlife Matters Rehabilitation Haven in Nancy.
The local wildlife care facility made headlines last fall for welcoming a wild cat named Addison who had been blinded and abandoned by her mother in Madison County. Goblin, meanwhile, was attached to another reporter from the start of the year – the raid on Tim’s Reptiles and Exotics in Burnside.
During the execution of the search and seizure warrant on September 1, Burnside Police conducted the investigation with the assistance of Pulaski County Animal Control, Kentucky Department Special Investigative Unit of Fish and Wildlife, Pulaski County Attorney’s Office, and Somerset-Pulaski County Humane Society.
Due to the scale of the operation, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), based in Washington, DC, was also enlisted by BPD to help rescue some 150 exotic animals that were in the store during its closure. Of that number, Burnside Police Chief Mike Hill estimated there were 80 animals – including snakes, lizards, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils – to deal with, the rest being fish. HSUS officials said in a press release that the guinea pigs and several turtles were forced to share the same enclosure, which was covered in cobwebs.
Moore, who operates Wildlife Matters Rehabilitation Haven with his wife Carol, was invited by the Liberty Nature Center, also in Pulaski County, to welcome Goblin, a Sulcata tortoise (or African spiny turtle) who was among the animals rescued from the store. Liberty Nature initially faced off against Goblin, but they often work with Wildlife Matters and knew they might be in a better position to take care of the creature.
“… (We) were already equipped to handle a giant tortoise,” Moore said. âAlthough Wildlife Matters is a relatively new rescue, turtles have been in our care for almost 12 years. During those years, constant studies of the Sulcata turtle have given us an edge in how to care for and properly care for turtles. “
Wildlife Matters has heated outdoor spaces and outdoor gardens for turtles, which are key to keeping animals happy and healthy in their environment.
âOver the years, we have collected several turtles and found them permanent homes or transferred them to educational institutions,â he said. “Goblin was destined for the same fate.”
Sulcata is the third largest species of turtle in the world, Moore noted, and is the most sought after as a pet. However, it has a lot to do with the “palm-sized babies” that are often found like in pet stores. They tend to grow large – usually a foot and a half long and 100 pounds in weight, and sometimes more – which unfortunately leads people to abandon them as pets.
âGoblin’s life prior to his stint in an unfit pet store is actually unknown,â Moore said. âSince his shell is not completely pyramidal, I can only assume that his early years were loved and well cared for. But for the last few years he has been trapped under a makeshift table / enclosure 4 x 8, with no natural light and no room to move more than a few feet in a circle. “
Once Goblin was at Wildlife Matters, an exam revealed the extent of his injuries and illnesses, Moore said.
“Due to the lack of water and daily life in his own feces, several spots of shell rot on his plastron and shell had to be extensively treated with antibiotics,” Moore said, referring to below, respectively. and the shell of the turtle. âThe overgrowth of her front fingernails, which had coiled into the pads of her front feet, was filed along with the overgrowth in her beak. Both eyes were sunken and had to be treated with antibiotic eye drops.
“The obvious concerns were easily visible and anyone who saw this turtle regularly should have easily seen that this turtle was not doing well,” he added. “But it wasn’t the worst of Goblin’s situation.”
That’s because while Goblin’s size was almost exactly the same as another turtle in the facility, his weight was almost half the same.
âAt over two feet long, our Ambassador Tortoise, Shelly, weighs 52 pounds. Goblin only weighed 27 pounds at his review weight,” said Moore. “In reality, he was almost a hollow shell. The breeding of this turtle was ignored for long enough to almost kill him.”
Due to the large amount of work required for Goblin over the next month, Moore wanted more for him than being placed in “just another rescue or educational institution”, and began to search for reserves in Africa. , the home territory of the Goblin species, which would be able to take Goblin as a rescue and hopefully release him back into the wild.
âGoblin deserved to know what his house really was,â Moore said. “… After months of research, I finally found exactly what I was looking for. The African Chelonian Institute, founded by Tomas Diagne, has been working for a few decades in the preservation of turtles and turtles. But above all, they have been to acclimatize the Sulcatas in captivity and release them into the wild. “
After a back-and-forth process of phone calls and emails, Wildlife Matters and the African Chelonian Institute, located in Senegal in West Africa, came up with a plan, called the “Goblin Initiative Project” , to transfer Goblin to Africa, hopefully the first of many Sulcata turtles to be released in their home country thanks to the partnership between the two organizations.
Moore said there were still “a lot of hurdles to overcome,” including medical exams and permits, and there was not yet a clear timeline or guarantee that this will happen, but ” steps are taken “to help Goblin return home. .
âIn short, barring dramatic circumstances, Goblin will pave the way for the overcrowded Sulcata pet trade in the United States towards a life of freedom on African lands, as nature intended,â said Moore. “… I just feel like it’s the right thing to do because this turtle has had a hard enough life that I think it deserves to be in the wild.”