'Cruel' - that's how one of the 'attractions' at this year's Sioe Sir Fôn - Anglesey Show has been described by local people and an animal rights organisation.

Around 50,000 people were expected to visit the show over two days between August 9 and 10. The show had been put on hold for two years due to Covid-19. 

On the site of the show near Gwalchmai, it was possible to see and touch giant tortoises which usually inhabit white beaches in the Indian Ocean.

Giant tortoises were 'on show' at Sioe Sir Fôn - Anglesey Show last weekThe natural habitat of the giant tortoises. Photo: Simisa CC BY-SA 3.0

Helen McGreary from Porthaethwy, Ynys Môn, told our sister title, Corgi Cymru, that treating wild giant tortoises as an attraction was "immoral".

"I think it's cruel to trap wild animals like this," she said.

"If the organisers of Sioe Môn had thought about this properly, then they might not have let them come. A large number of people have strong feelings about things like this - public opinion has changed over time."

Ms McGreary said she did not think for a minute that the organisers of the show were "bad people".

"They haven't thought this out properly and I'm terribly disappointed that they let the poor turtles be an attraction in the show. I really hope they won't be there next year," she said.

Giant tortoises were 'on show' at Sioe Sir Fôn - Anglesey Show last week

Giant tortoises can live to be 100 years old.

"Think of having to live like this out of your habitat," said Ms McGreary. 

"It's terrible isn't it? They are kept in cages, having to travel around the country for what? For people to pet them.”

The tortoises are owned by a man named Adrian Graham, who is from Heckington in Lincolnshire. Corgi Cymru understands Mr Graham contacted the show and paid to take the animals there.

According to the AA, it is a circuit of over eight hours which is a total of some 440 miles from Mr Graham's address to the showground and back. It is understood that he has taken the giant tortoises to several shows and fairs over the years.

The senior campaigns manager for the animal rights organisation PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Kate Werner, said: 

"Leave tortoises alone. They are individuals with thoughts, worries, and feelings, not toys. These sentient beings should be living in peace on the white sands of the Aldabra islands, not confined to a pen and used as a petting zoo attraction to promote a country show.

"Animals used in travelling exhibitions are shuffled around in cramped transport cages, subjected to loud noises that are confusing and frightening to them, and handled, fondled, and poked by humans," Ms Werner said. 

"Parents should note that pathologists call travelling animal shows hotbeds of communicable diseases, and most tortoises carry a host of bacteria on their shells and skin – including Salmonella – which are harmless to the tortoises, but not to humans (especially children).

"According to the Health and Safety Executive, infections can spread through even indirect animal contact, and in some cases, the resulting illness can be fatal.

"PETA urges visitors to the Anglesey County Show to object to and avoid this cruel attraction and any other outdated live-animal displays."

Giant tortoises were 'on show' at Sioe Sir Fôn - Anglesey Show last week

The Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act makes it an offense to use wild animals in a traveling circus, but not as entertainment elsewhere.

We asked the Welsh Government if it was considering expanding the legislation to include wild animals that are exhibited for entertainment in other places, such as agricultural shows and fairs?

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said:

Our Animal Welfare Plan for Wales 2021–2026 outlines our proposals, which include developing a national model for regulating animal welfare, introducing a registration procedure for animal welfare organisations, those who breed animals commercially to be animals pet or for shooting, and animal exhibitions, to ensure that high standards are met, rather than a ban."

"The show organisers are responsible for exhibitions and events within the show, and if a member of the public has any concerns about the welfare of an animal, they should inform the relevant local authority."

Giant tortoises were 'on show' at Sioe Sir Fôn - Anglesey Show last weekThe show returned for the first time since 2019

Corgi Cymru asked Ynys Môn Council for information, and for a response, to the comments and complaints above. A council spokesman said in a statement:

Sioe Môn is not a circus as defined by the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act 2020 and the tortoises are not defined as dangerous wild animals. Therefore, there is no need for a license and there is no restriction on the display of private animals of this type.

"Public Protection Officers visited the Show on the first day of the Show's (08.08.22) and on 09.08.22. It was observed that the installation and conditions of the show were acceptable on both occasions. In addition, verbal discussions were held between Public Protection Department officers and the owner a week before the show to discuss infection control and animal welfare.

"Regarding the cage, Public Protection Officers saw, and they confirmed, that a well-being trailer was available for the animals to be transported in. The trailer was also available for the animals during the show.

"It is recognised that reptiles can be a source of salmonella. The main control measure necessary during experiential displays (petting farms etc.) is to ensure that adequate hand washing facilities are available. These facilities were requested and provided were checked by officers during their visit Hand sanitizer was also available.

"Ynys Môn Council did not provide a license as it was not necessary to do so."

Corgi Cymru also asked the Sioe Sir Fôn for a response.