Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

Williamsburg Animal Cruelty: Did Construction Workers Paint This Backyard Turtle?

May 5th, 2008 · 36 Comments

Myrtle Painted
We have seen some vile things related to construction in Williamsburg, but the paint attack on a backyard turtle named Myrtle, possibly by workers at 5 Roebling Street (aka the former Giant Fart Cloud Building), takes the Trophy of Repulsiveness. It’s a small thing in the context of the destabilization of buildings, illegal construction and the lack of attention to site safety, but it does cause the blood to boil with its sadism and just-plain-foulness. Myrtle came to our attention via neighbors who sent the photo above of its painted shell. The email said:

We have this turtle that wanders through the different backyards here. She hibernates every winter and comes out every spring. I had been wondering why she wasn’t “up” yet , by May 1st ; but, I blamed it on the lack of rain in the last half of april. It seems though that she had gotten up and out instead. My landlord passed her through the window to me day before yesterday looking like the photo. Painted. Pepto colored spray paint. It is obviously intentional because she got such a sustained spray that it has drip marks. The face and feet, as well. It is the exact color that the excavation people use on the 5 Roebling site to mark elevations on walls adjoining, so they know how deep to dig…

We asked for more photos showing the color of the paint being used next door and received more than a dozen showing the same color with which the turtle was painted. The neighbor who rescued Myrtle after finding him/her painted writes:

I am just really relieved that Myrtle should be okay. The baths don’ t help at all to get the paint off, so being sent to the country would only set her up as a target for Hawks and other critters. Mother-in-law suggested a faux finish. I don’t think so. By the way, I believe Myrtle is an Eastern Box Turtle.

If anyone knows how to get a thick coat of paint off the shell off a turtle (New York Zoological Society???), email us at thegowanuslounge (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll connect you with the people that rescued Myrtle. If anyone at the ASPCA is interested, we will likewise make the introduction to those that rescued her. For the record, the 5 Roebling project has had more than its share of issues with run-of-the-mill building-related and human torment issues.

Tags: Animals · Williamsburg

36 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Queens Crapper // May 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    That is absolutely horrid.

  • 2 phyllis taiano // May 5, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    visit this site. they are in Long Island.


  • 3 Anonymous // May 5, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Nothing better to do? What’s next, the guard dogs on Bond? Losers. Go back to mexico. Stupid, bored men.

  • 4 Julie // May 5, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Where is this turtle now? Paint is very difficult to remove. That was cruel and inhumane. I wish I could get the turtle here. It would need to be worked on daily to try to remove the paint. Chemicals cannot be used.

  • 5 anon // May 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Knowing there is construction going on nearby, and that the turtle is obviously within reach of people other than who care for it, why do the “keepers” of the turtle think it would be safe from a number of any abuses intentional or not? This is not the country, folks, you love the turtle, TAKE CARE OF IT. And the remark about Mexicans is simply racist..

  • 6 Miss Heather // May 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Whoever did this should rot in hell.

  • 7 Anonymous // May 5, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Try Sean Casey Animal Rescue.

  • 8 old timer // May 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    that is fucked up…we live in a world of sociopaths…disgusting

  • 9 Jimmy Legs // May 5, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    have you guys ever had a box turtle? the paint probably won’t hurt it. it sucks that it happened of course, but Myrtle is in no immediate danger. those turtles (terrapins actually) live forever, unless, you know, they wander out onto the street.

  • 10 Gary // May 5, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Actually Jimmy, from what I remember from my childhood, we were told that paint on a Box Turtle’s shell interferes with the growth of the shell and can seriously harm or kill it.

    Anyone who would do that to a harmless turtle belongs in jail.

  • 11 Mark // May 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Myrtle is actually a male Eastern Box Turtle. He’s fully grown, so the paint isn’t as much of an immediate threat as it would be if he was a baby. The shell is living tissue, however, and the paint should be removed. Ideally, you wouldn’t want to use any kind of harsh chemical to get it off, but it can be removed a very little bit at a time from the shell with a Q-tip and some of that thick, viscous, liquid paint remover, followed by rinsing with warm water as you go. You’d have to be very careful with that procedure on any part other than the shell. You can’t slather the paint remover on the way that you would with a piece of wood, but if you’re careful and do it a little at a time, gently, with rinsing as you go, I think it can be done. His skin may be irritated for a bit afterwards, but he’ll recover quickly and be better off in the long run.

  • 12 Turtle Enthusiast Magazine // May 5, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Julie from the Turtle Rescue group is willing to take Myrtle and safely remove the paint. Her group is located on Long Island…is anybody heading out that way this week/weekend and willing to give Myrtle a lift?

  • 13 Hooper // May 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    I admit I know nothing about turtles, but would it be harmful to peel or scrape the paint off if it is possible?

  • 14 Anonymous // May 5, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Yes, yes, the mexican comment was bad. I apologize. I was blinded by animal cruelty.

  • 15 anon // May 5, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Sure the perpetrators should go to jail, or fined, or punished in someway(as it is truly cruel and inhumane), but why is everyone ignoring that the people leaving the turtle up to its own survival in an urban setting next to an excavation site, that has tons of “issues with run-of-the-mill building-related and human torment issues” is somewhat neglectful of them?

  • 16 Anonymous // May 5, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    You could always fuck up their survey marks!

  • 17 bee // May 5, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Growing up we used to spray paint our initials on our hunting dogs in order to tell them apart at a distance. Not that different. Get some perspective; it’s just a turtle.

  • 18 James // May 5, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    to everyone stating that this turtle was left to care for itself, i live next door and this is a case of asshole construction workers trespassing on the adjacent property and defacing the animal. and no painting initials on a dogs fur is not the same thing. it’s called fur and it grows back.

  • 19 Patti // May 6, 2008 at 1:28 am

    This is utterly despicable and absolutely sick.

  • 20 Christina // May 6, 2008 at 3:29 am

    From this site:


    “I tried a product called Fast Orange, a cream hand cleaner sold in automotive parts stores, discount stores, and hardware stores. The active ingredients are citric acid and ground pumice stone. I found that the best way to use this was to dampen the turtle, then smear the hand cleaner on her and let it sit for a minute or two. Then I alternated between using a pot scrubbing pad and an old toothbrush to remove the paint. Sometimes I was able to simply peel the paint off with my fingernail in some spots on her shell. This took several days, the scrubbing was irritating to her so I’d have to work on her a couple of times a day to keep her from being too uncomfortable. After three or four days, all that was left were tiny flecks of paint that were not even noticeable. “

  • 21 Lindsey // May 6, 2008 at 8:47 am

    How can people be so cruel! Poor little turtle, i hope who ever did this gets what they deserve (i.e. a reserved seat in a very hot place)!

  • 22 RadioHead // May 6, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Other then a retard … who would be dumb enough to paint a turtle?

  • 23 Englishman in New York » Brooklyn Animal Lovers Seeing Red // May 6, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    […] to Gowanus Lounge, Myrtle the turtle could be the latest victim of Williamsburg gentrification—or at least […]

  • 24 meta-mirror.com » Blog Archive » YIMBY // May 6, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    […] poor turtle is now a celebrity (see here, and elsewhere). This morning as I wiped down my chairs to enjoy my first al fresco breakfast of […]

  • 25 beth // May 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Hey why is it wrong to paint a turtle, but ok to say that the unknown construction workers should “go back to Mexico”? Let’s not ruin an important post with irrelevant racist comments.

  • 26 NancyK // May 6, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    You are probably better off just leaving the paint and let it wear off. I’m no turtle expert, but it reminds me when my son “painted” my daughters leg with bright red nail polish. I called my pediatrician and they said not to use any kind of remover, which will do more damage than the polish. Just recomended regular bathing. It was gone in about 10 days. Good luck to you Myrtle!!

  • 27 Carrie // May 6, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    If the turtle’s friends want to help get her clean, they might want to contact the New York Herpetological Society for advice = (212) 740-3580. There’s also a club on Staten Island that looks a little more active: http://www.metroherpsociety.org

  • 28 Siam // May 6, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    This is pretty ugly. When I was young, marking turtles was a common thing in the country, but this sounds a little abusive if they spray painted the entire turtle including the face. Just don’t point any fingers until you have some evidence pointing to a particular person.

    “bee” must be from the country too. 🙂 “anon” has some good points too.

  • 29 Anonymous // May 7, 2008 at 7:01 am

    do something bad do these bastards.

  • 30 Agatha // May 7, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    This is disgusting and insanely inhumane. It saddens me that people have this much disregard for living things…

  • 31 animal cruelty // May 9, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    […] turtle?a very sad example of animal cruelty in a place where wildlife is not particularly abundanthttp://www.gowanuslounge.com/2008/05/05/williamsburg-animal-cruelty-did-workers-paint-backyard-turtl…Pet-Abuse.Com – Database of Criminal Animal Cruelty CasesDatabase of Criminal animal cruelty Cases. […]

  • 32 David Burg // May 9, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Yet another sad assault on wildlife and nature. I hope the turtle is doing well. Someone might also want to contact the NYC turtle and tortoise society, look them up on line.

    WildMetro, (our non-profit organization that works to protect nature in the metro area) has done some research on reptiles and amphibians in the area, but our encounters with box turtles are incidental. We have seen them in coastal Westchester County and up near Bear Mountain. And there are still populations in the wilder sandy areas of Long Island. Box turtles do not survive well in cities, we do not know of any breeding populations in any of the five boroughs. A possible exception may be sites around Jamaica Bay where they were re-intorduced by the National Park Service, including Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

    Staten Island has some box turtles, but they seem to be only males. As in many trutle populations, females wander to find sites to lay eggs and tend to get run over by cars. Very sad, and it typically leaves behind a population of “only the lonely” males.

    Another big threat is the removal of box turtles from the wild for pets, especially for the entertainment of children…they are not uncommon in school classes. They are about the most frequently caught tutle since they are slow, live on dry land, and are very beautiful. They seem to make good pets but really, they should be left alone. Their populations are in great decline throughout most of Eastern N. America. Of course, in addition to the problems mentioned above they suffer when land is developed and when farms are abandoned and meadows revert to woods. Dry meadows are a preferred habitat, and may be required for a healthy population.

    Finally, I suspect the Brooklyn turtle was removed from the wild. This should never be done. It may be possible to return this turtle to the wild if somebody knows where it came from, and if the site may has not been destroyed. But that option has problems. Once a turtle has been in captivity it may introduce carry diseases, if re intoduced to the wild population those diseases can spread and kill wild turtles. Reintroducing the turtle without knowing where it came from may mess with local genetics. Southern box turtles may not easily deal with cold, if they cross breed with local turtles their young could be doomed. So this turtle have to make do with backyard life. My brother and his wife have a breeding population of box turtles in their fairly small backyard in New Mexico, the turtles do not need too much room. But protection from vandals would be nice.

  • 33 CarlyFarkey // May 14, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Humans sicken me.

  • 34 Jim // Aug 2, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Fuckin yuppies

  • 35 Blucold // Sep 14, 2008 at 10:19 am

    TO the one who said get some perspective: I say to you, that most humane societies would have removed your hunting dogs from your care had they of caught you spray painting your dogs. Thats why they invented things called id tags. A turtle is an animal, it is close to extinction in these areas because of stupid humans like yourself who have no regard for the eco system. I am in suspense waiting for someone as ignorant as yourself to also post a blog, saying “oh it’s no big deal that someone neglected their child” “oh it’s no big deal someone ran over a dog and left it to die” “oh it’s not big deal, some guy raped a girl, lets get a little perspective here.”

  • 36 deathbyelove // Oct 9, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    i have alson founf a box turtle that has been painted but this paint look like the kind you us on crafts dose any one have any idea how to get it off