A Sechelt man was sentenced to six months' probation Friday after pleading guilty to the theft of Zoomer the box turtle from Vancouver’s Science World.
Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Elizabeth Burgess heard William Edward Richardson, 49, took the turtle while visiting the Vancouver attraction with his three children on July 19, 2021.
Burgess heard the family didn’t believe Zoomer’s habitat was acceptable.
“In their non-expert opinion, they believed the cage was too small,” defence lawyer Ryman Yeung told Burgess.
So Richardson went to his car, got some bolt cutters and removed Zoomer, court heard.
Richardson took Zoomer to a lake “and spent five hours with the turtle observing it to see if it wanted to be released,” Crown prosecutor Paul Pietrusinski said.
He said Zoomer’s species is not native to the West Coast and don’t survive outside.
“We are aware this could be the case with Zoomer,” Pietrusinski said.
Defence said Richardson had done his research.
"He believed the warm climate in B.C. would allow the turtle to survive here,” Yeung said.
The judge gave Richardson six months’ probation.
“You will write a letter of apology to Science World,” Burgess said.
Pietrusinski said Science World staff had expressed feelings of guilt at Zoomer’s loss.
The court heard Zoomer was a well-cared-for Science World animal ambassador and had been there more than 20 years.