Residents of a South Beach condominium were in for a gruesome surprise when they left their building on Saturday morning. Awaiting them were the decapitated carcases of animals believed to be used in a religious sacrifice.
“At first, I thought it was a prop,” area resident Quintin Hill told the Local 10 News. “I really thought it was some kind of setup. That’s why when I walked around the corner I was like, ‘Am I walking into something I’m not supposed to?’”
The animals, several roosters, chickens, and one goat, all headless, were found laying alongside a the waterfront in a blue bag, presumably washed ashore from one of the neighboring islands. Animal control professionals believe that these animals were part of a ritual sacrifice, a practice that is quickly growing in popularity in the south of Florida. Unfortunately, the discoveries of mutilated animals are rising as well.
Animal activist Richard Cuoto told the NBC News that this goes on everywhere, but the strangely affluent area, a community teeming with the wealthy and the famous, was an unusual one for him.
“We are getting more calls of animals getting sacrificed in Miami Beach,” Couto said. “But I have never found them in the middle of South Beach, just blocks from Ocean Drive.”
It’s believed that the ritual killings are linked to Santería, a religion of Cuban and West African descent that uses animal sacrifice as a means of healing. In 1993, the practice caused such a stir that it was brought before the Supreme Court in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah where it was ruled a constitutional right.
Cuoto was sure to add that just because it’s a right, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to just scatter the bodies of carved up animals all willie-nillie.
“Handle the animals properly and dispose of them properly. You cannot throw these animals into the ocean. It’s a health issue for the public and, you know, it’s just wrong.”