LACEY - A tortoise that weighs nearly 600 pounds was taken from a Monmouth County backyard. Authorities say the reptile was a victim of animal abuse.

Neighbor Sheila Brown says the Aldabra tortoise, native to Southeast Africa, and three smaller tortoises were all living together in a small dirt pit in her neighbor's backyard until folks on the street got together and complained.

Animal control officers said the environment was inadequate and charged Richard Hines, 41, with 8 counts of animal cruelty.

Hines is scheduled to appear in court in mid-October. The state says he did not have any permits to own the exotic reptiles.