Man faces charges after setting endangered tortoise on fire

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities are adding a charge against an Alabama man accused of setting fire to a turtle after officials determined the reptile is an endangered tortoise.

Originally charged with felony animal cruelty, 19-year-old James Terrance Allen of Dothan is now also charged with a misdemeanor count of harming a protected species.

Local media quotes a state conservation officer Thursday as saying the charge was added after an examination showed the animal was a gopher tortoise.

Police arrested Allen on Wednesday after callers complained that a man was setting fire to a turtle during a Facebook live stream. The animal survived and is being cared for at a wildlife sanctuary. Authorities have nicknamed the tortoise “Leonardo.”

An attorney appointed to represent Allen declined to comment.

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