How TMNT Inadvertently Caused An Environmental Crisis

Children in the United Kingdom went so turtle crazy in the early '90s, red-eared terrapins became an invasive species.

How TMNT Inadvertently Caused An Environmental Crisis
CBS / "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

The movie is set for release Friday. (Via Getty Images)

And how could any child of the '80s or '90s— while staying loyal to the original brand — not at least be curious about what the latest version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" will bring to the big screen? (Via Paramount Pictures / "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles")

But The Daily Beast notes a beef environmentalists in the United Kingdom have with the half-shell heroes that dates back to those original years. Turns out, turtles as pets turned the red-eared terrapin from the U.S. into an invasive species in the U.K.

Apparently in the early '90s, the turtles invaded the UK in a very real, non-cartoony way. (Via CBS / "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles")

British children began buying up red-eared terrapins at pet stores, and it's easy to see why. They're cute as babies. This YouTube user named all these turtles Michaelangelo after the TMNT character. (Via YouTube / thomodachi)

​But they soon grow to adults — full size of about a foot long, and pet owners often abandoned them in ponds instead of buying a new tank. Big problem when you consider they eat ducklings, small water birds and amphibians. (Via YouTube / expertvillage)

The founder of a British wildlife rescue organization told The Daily Beast, "They’re quite a voracious animal as far as the diet. They can eat so many things that they are detrimental to the actual balance to the nature and waterways once they get introduced to them.”

Wait a minute. That doesn't sound like the turtles of my childhood.

LEONARDO: "You know, even a really small garden helps to refurbish the soil." (Via CBS / "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles")

Ironically, throughout the cartoon or costumed existence of TMNT, the brand promoted environmentally friendly messages. (Via New Line Cinema / "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles")

The movie already upset some die-hard fans with various moves like the casting of Megan Fox as April O'Neil, Michael Bay's hints that the turtle origin story might turn them into aliens, and then Paramount Pictures tweeting a poster of the turtles jumping from an exploding building many felt was too 9/11-ish for a movie based in New York City. (Via Getty Images, Getty Images, Twitter / @ParamountAU)

Paramount quickly apologized for that last one and pulled the poster. (Via Variety)

​The chairman of the British Chelonia Group — chelonia is the scientific classification for turtles — issued a statement saying it'd be nice if producers would issue their own statement warning against impulse turtle buys. Doesn't sound all that likely to us, but then again, neither does a cartoon causing an environmental crisis.