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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 17:08 GMT
Anger at terrapin firework launch
Terrapin by the firework
The terrapin had been taped to the firework with white masking tape
The RSPCA has called for an internet advert to be pulled after a terrapin was taped to a firework rocket and fired into a garden on Bonfire Night.

The creature, thought to be a female, was found by a dog in Wrexham with a cracked shell and a bleeding mouth.

The animal charity claimed there was an "obvious" connection with a Virgin Media Broadband advert of a cartoon tortoise being launched into space.

The company defended the ad but said it did not condone any animal cruelty.

The RSPCA has appealed for help in catching the culprits behind the cruelty to the terrapin, calling it "callous and sick".

The creature is being cared for at a north Wales specialist reptile centre.

On Tuesday morning the dog returned from the garden of a house in Rutland Road, with what looked like a stick in its mouth.

We're not claiming this incident was a direct copycat, however, the connection is obvious
David Bowles, RSPCA

Its owner was horrified to find that the stick was in fact a used firework which had a terrapin attached to it with white masking tape.

It is thought the firework was set off on 5 November, meaning the terrapin had lain in the garden overnight.

The terrapin was collected by RSPCA officer Claire Davies, and given an antibiotic injection and cream for her shell.

She also suffered a bump to the head.

'Premeditated act'

Ms Davies said she was "completely lost for words" when she discovered what had happened to the animal.

She said: "For someone to have purposely taped this terrapin to a firework before lighting it is beyond belief.

"After this terrifying ordeal and lying in a cold garden all night it is a miracle that she survived."

"We campaign every year about the dangers and distress fireworks cause to animals but this was a deliberate, premeditated act of cruelty."

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said the animal was initially identified as a small turtle but was then found to be a terrapin.

The internet ad released this week involves a cartoon in which a lit firework was used to shoot an animated tortoise into space, ripping off its shell in the process.

"We're not claiming this incident was a direct copycat, however, the connection is obvious," said RSPCA spokesman affairs David Bowles.

"We ask that any future advertising is thought through more carefully as it is a powerful medium and any kind of animal cruelty message could have far-reaching consequences."

'Symbolic'

Virgin Media said the company would not pull the advert but added it did not condone any form of animal cruelty.

"Our online advert features a line-drawing of a tortoise using a rocket as a method of acceleration," a spokeswoman said.

She said the tortoise was intended to be "symbolic of something moving at slow speed," and was the extension of a campaign showing the same tortoise using a skateboard.

"Both adverts, which use animated, not real, subjects, are intended to demonstrate the speed of our broadband service and in one ad, the tortoise is shown lighting the rocket itself as it is trying to move faster."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the RSPCA national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999.



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