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Austin man charged after trafficking endangered Galapagos tortoises

An Austin man and former Oklahoma City Zoo employee has avoided jail time after pleading guilty to charges involving trafficking endangered Galapagos tortoises.


On Wednesday, Joshua Taylor Lucas was found guilty of a single count wildlife trafficking felony charge, according to Robert J. Troester, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Lucas was given three years probation, 100 hours of community service and a $32,500 fine to be given to the zoo.

Lucas who was a former assistant curator of herpetology at the Oklahoma City Zoo, was charged in violation of the Lacey Act after taking endangered animals from the zoo and then shipping them across state lines between April and June of 2016. In the hearing, Lucas said he stole several Galapagos tortoise hatchlings while with the zoo and shipped 21 of them to Kenneth Warren Foose II, who was charged with trafficking Galapagos tortoises in Texas before his death.

In a statement, Oklahoma City Zoo officials said that they were shocked at the news and made changes so trafficking cannot occur in the future.

"This highly unusual incident has shocked and saddened the entire zoo staff and has strengthened our vigilance to care for and protect the wildlife entrusted to us," officials said. "Since learning of the theft in March 2020, the Zoo has modified internal caretaking policies, security procedures and record-keeping for managing this species to prevent this from happening in the future."

Galapagos tortoises are highly valued in the illegal animal trafficking market and are the largest tortoises in the world, according to Phillip Land, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This iconic species is the largest tortoise in the world, with hatchling-sized juveniles carrying a black market value starting at $5,000 per animal," Land said in a statement. "Our Special Agents and Wildlife Inspectors make it a priority to identify, investigate, and dismantle illegal trafficking networks, and refer individual violators for prosecution under U.S. laws."

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Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway