After Afro-Cuban religious rituals, activists find animal remains, chained turtles

MIAMI – Animal activists said they recently rescued two baby turtles who had survived a ritual in Miami and were being rehabilitated at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station.

Part of the turtles’ shells were perforated to pass a chain through the two. There were also small metal locks attached to the silver chain, which was linked to two ruby ​​red voodoo dolls.

A photo showed that there were two photos of a male and a female.

“I hate being the guy in the picture,” Janet Morgan wrote on Facebook.

Animal Recovery Mission activists say they have been busy. There have been more rituals involving animals than usual in Miami. Rachel Taylor, a WARC activist, attributes this to Santeria and Palo Mayombe, two religions with Afro-Cuban and Roman Catholic influence.

“These religions strongly involve animal sacrifice,” Taylor wrote.

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On Tuesday, Santeria practitioners marked the feast day of Shango, their most feared deity. It’s a day when Santeros honor the deity, also known as Saint Barbara, with offerings. According to their religious tradition, Shango has an appetite for turtles, goats, sheep, roosters and red wine.

Near Miami’s Hobie Island Beach Park, activists found a dozen dead chickens and three dead goats. The chickens and one of the goats had their heads cut off just steps from the Rickenbacker Causeway, which connects Brickell to Virginia Key, above Biscayne Bay.

Two of the goats had their throats cut. Photos of the activists’ finds also show abandoned fruit, candles and small wooden heads of deities. Activists from the Animal Recovery Mission said they reported their findings to Miami Police Department officers.

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Religious ritual slaughter has long been the subject of legal disagreement.

Florida law states that “instantaneous severing of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument” is a humane method of ritually killing animals. Animal cruelty laws must not be “construed as prohibiting, restricting, or in any way impairing the religious freedom of any person or group.”

Animal advocates want to change that.

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WARNING: graphic content

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Ruth R. Culp