Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dulera tortoise, horribly cared for!

I was watching TV late last night and a commercial came on for Dulera, a new asthma medication by Merck.  Usually I don't pay much attention to commercials, but I happened to glance up just in time to see a lady kneeling down by a tortoise.  I immediately thought sulcata, but noticed the shell was very pyramided.  I rewinded it so I could pause the shot and get a good look.  The footage isn't real close up - obviously the eye is supposed to be on the female in the commercial - but even so I'm still convinced this is a sulcata that's in horrific condition.  I've attached the photo yourself so you can decide.

After a couple other sully owners saw the photo and agreed that it appears to be a sulcata that's been terribly cared for, I've decided to write Merck.  I'm sickened that they've paid someone money to use an animal that's being slowly killed in one of the most horrible ways to kill such an amazing species. 

If anyone else is interested in contacting them, here is the information I found to contact their Corporate Responsibility office:

Or by snail mail:

Merck & Co., Inc.
The Office of Corporate Responsibility
WS2A-55 Merck & Co., Inc.
1 Merck Drive P.O. Box 100
Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889 USA

A copy of the letter I'll be sending is below:

Recently while watching television I saw a commercial for a new medication you've released called Dulera.  During the commercial there is a shot of a lady kneeling by a tortoise.  I'd be interested in where you found this tortoise for the commercial and what went into hiring the owner / handler of this tortoise for your commercial.  If I'm correct, that is an African Spur-Thigh Sulcata.  If I'm correct, that tortoise has not been cared for well at all, and is on it's way to an excruciating and long drawn out death.  

A sulcata should have a very smooth shell.  At their largest they get to be over 200 pounds, and any over 100 pounds is extremely common.  They measure on average a couple feet across when full grown.  They are the third largest species of land tortoise on the planet, surpassed only by the Galapagos and the Aldabra tortoises.  Sadly, because this is an 'exotic pet' that's sold at pet stores and reptile shows across this country with no information given to the owners, they are seldom properly cared for.  This results in pyramiding, which this tortoise in your commercial exhibits strongly. 

Pyramiding is a form of metabolic bone disease.  It is not a disease that happens over night.  It's a direct result of years of neglect, improper diet, inadequate sunlight and humidity.  Tortoises that do not survive pyramiding commonly die from renal failure, systemic infection and / or cardiac and / or respiratory problems. 

This species of tortoise is actually very hardy, easy and inexpensive to care for.  Allowing one to get to this condition is a direct result of an owner that didn't bother to do their homework about the species and has been completely neglectful.  The thought that your company paid someone who allowed an animal to suffer this way is appalling.  I implore you to please pull that commercial - or edit out that portion - and look into the people who care for animals you may use in your advertising in the future.  


Veronica Connelly
Proud 'parent' to three adopted, formerly neglected Sulcatas


  1. This is horrible and I will send your letter as soon as I can get to a computer, seeing this now on my phone. Tho I'm sure Merck will not care, corporate America- all about making money :-(

  2. Hi Ronni, you're right this adult sulcata does look very much pyramided. I strongly believe that pet shop owners should properly educate people who buy their sulcatas. Or at least sulcata owners should do their extensive research when buying one of these beautiful animals. I have a sulcata tort myself, which I got when she was only a year old and already had pryamiding. About 11 month ago she was diagnosed with MBD, but after monthly visits to her vet, her shell's no longer soft it's hard as a rock, and we're now working on lessening her pyramiding :) I'm glad to have found and joined your blog, please "follow" my blog, too :)