MIAMI BEACH Two animals which had been decapitated and thrown into Biscayne Bay washed up behind a South Beach condo Sunday morning, CBS Station WFOR reports.
The decapitated goat and chicken were fished out of the water by Richard Couto, of the advocacy group Animal Recovery Mission.
Couto speculated that the animals had been killed as part of a Santeria or Palo Mayombe ritual.
A blend of Roman Catholicism and West African religious beliefs, Santeria revolves around the worship of saints. Followers of Palo Mayombe petition the spirits of the dead.
Cuoto says Palo Mayombe is becoming more popular in South Florida.
He also told WFOR that animals used in such rituals face inhumane treatment as well as torturous deaths. "We're talking about these animals deprived of food, water. They're hog-tied, their placed in bags," said Cuoto.
Miami Police Officer Nelson Reyes, who teaches a course at the department on Afro-Caribbean religious practices, told the Miami Herald the sacrifice could be related to Haitian Voodoo, but said it was difficult to tell because other items associated with the ritual were washed away.
Generally, Reyes said, decapitated chickens are associated with a "cleansing" ritual, and decapitated goats, rams or other four-legged animals are a sign of a spell cast for a beneficial effect.
Animal sacrifice is legal, protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Miami Beach Police told the paper they were not investigating the animals' deaths because they did not seem like a threat toward an individual.