Early this month two would-be tortoise thieves attempted to steal Jasmine, a 27-year-old Galapagos tortoise from Jerry Fife, an expert on tortoises an
Early this month two would-be tortoise thieves attempted to steal Jasmine, a 27-year-old Galapagos tortoise from Jerry Fife, an expert on tortoises and former contributing writer to REPTILES magazine.
The suspects, a man and a woman, entered the compound of Fife and attempted to load the endangered species into their truck when they were confronted by Fife. The thieves then dropped the tortoise and took off in their truck, running the tortoise over as they made their getaway. The crime was captured on Fife’s security cameras in the early morning hours of June 7.
“People just don’t understand,” Fife told 12 News Phoenix in a video interview. “It’s like, how can someone do this to an animal? Why did they do it? Why were they stealing it in the first place?”
Jasmine had to be euthanized due to the extensive damage to her carapace. A $13,000 Reward is available to anyone who has information leading to the arrest and conviction of the criminals.
The Galapagos tortoise is protected in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. In the United States, the tortoises are captive bred, and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service interstate commerce permit museum be obtained to sell one across state lines. But they can only be sold for education and conservation efforts. Fife, though has his theory on where the tortoise may have ended up had the criminals been successful.
“You know, outside the country, that tortoise could be worth a couple of hundred thousand [dollars], potentially,” Fife told 12 News Phoenix.
“They’re such a gentle, wonderful animal and I’m just hopeful that the police — from the videos — can identify the truck, identify the license plate, and catch the people that did it,” said Fife.
Anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects in this case are encouraged to contact the Phoenix Police department at (602) 262-7626.
Galapagos tortoises are the largest tortoise species in the world and can live more than 120 years. They are native to the Galapagos Islands but captive breeding efforts have enabled them to be distributed to various zoos around the world.