this is a splendid sanctuary for long-term pet tortoises but this week they were served a notice instructing them to close to the public
The Tortoise Garden rescues long term pets often when their owners have died or simply become too old to look after them.
To raise money the site is open to the public who are encouraged to donate. Allowing the public in, with or without donation, brings them under the definition of a zoo.
'The definition of a zoo under the ZLA is 'an establishment where wild animals (animals not normally domesticated in Great Britain) are kept for exhibition to
the public (otherwise than for the purposes of a circus and otherwise than in a petshop) with or without charge for seven or more days a year.'
DEFRA control the interpretation of this, the local authority is forced to work within the definitions.
The Tortoise garden is displaying an animal which the law says is 'not normally domesticated in GB', - ie. the tortoise. The tortoise is a nice tractable animal which can be kept in domestic circmstances relatively easily but it has not been changed to make it more domesticated. DEFRA does not view tortoises as domesticated and therefore displaying them makes a sanctuary a zoo.
The Tortoise Garden is doing valuable welfare rescue work - taking in tortoises from various welfare societies and from private indviduals no longer able to cope.
Please write to your MP to challenge this. Only DEFRA can change this interpretation.