A park visitor watching the sunset at a Washington state pond got a surprise Wednesday evening when he spotted turtles with swastikas painted on their shells, KIRO reported.
“What’s going on?” asked Aaron Greene, according to the station. “It’s very bizarre.”
On Tuesday, police in Renton, near Seattle, wrote on Facebook that someone had reported seeing Nazi symbols on turtles at Gene Coulon Memorial Park Beach, noting the reptiles had “evaded apprehension” so far.
Now park officials are trying to corral the swastika-adorned turtles to be cleaned off, with little luck, according to The Renton Reporter. They’ve enlisted the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to round up the reptiles.
“We hope as a community people will show up and strongly say this isn’t OK,” said resident Chad Cashman-Crane, who has organized a rally against hate at the park at 1 p.m. Saturday, according to the publication.
Miri Cypers, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the vandalism “troubling and unfortunate,” though she also noted the swastikas appear to “have been painted in the wrong direction,” KIRO reported.
In Florida, someone painted three swastikas on a tortoise shell at a St. Petersburg park in 2016, WFLA reported. The tortoise was captured, cleaned and returned to the wild.
After a series of similar — but more artistic and less hateful — turtle-painting incidents, Florida wildlife officials had to appeal to people in 2016 to stop painting turtle and tortoise shells, USA Today reported.
“The paint can hinder their ability to absorb vitamins they need from the sun, cause respiratory problems, allow toxic chemicals into the bloodstream and more,” wildlife officials warned, according to the publication.