Family caught smuggling tortoises inside cigarette packets at airport

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 10 September 2018

The tortoises were found in cigarette packets. Picture: Home Office

The tortoises were found in cigarette packets. Picture: Home Office

Archant

Border Force officers at Bristol Airport rescued three tortoises which passengers attempted to smuggle into the UK concealed in cigarette packages.

The tortoises were found in cigarette packets. Picture: Home OfficeThe tortoises were found in cigarette packets. Picture: Home Office

The discovery was made on August 28 after a family of six people arrived in Bristol on a flight from Tunisia.

A baggage search revealed three tortoises concealed in separate suitcases which had been in the baggage hold.

Each tortoise was found underneath layers of clothing inside cigarette packets containing single lettuce leaves.

The Home Office confirmed to the Mercury no family members were charged over the incident.

The tortoises were found in cigarette packets. Picture: Home OfficeThe tortoises were found in cigarette packets. Picture: Home Office

Border Force officers contacted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) team which confirmed the animals were controlled under CITES and required the correct permits to be imported legally.

Border Force officers arranged for the animals to be transported to a separate facility where they will be cared for appropriately.

Peter Jones, assistant director for Border Force Bristol, said: “Clearly, transporting animals in such a way and without the correct paperwork is not acceptable.

“Rules are in place for reasons of animal welfare and thanks to the intervention of our officers, these tortoises can now be properly cared for.

“This should serve as a warning to anyone thinking about transporting wildlife in such conditions.”

The RSPCA condemned the family’s actions as the animals have ‘specific requirements’ and should be cared for in the appropriate manner.

Its spokesman said: “Reptiles have specific requirements and need a controlled environment, tortoises smuggled illegally into the country in this way are very likely to have suffered.

“The needs of exotic animals can be challenging to meet by members of the public because they are fundamentally linked to certain behaviours, diets or environmental conditions which can be difficult to replicate in a home.

“We urge anyone thinking about getting an exotic pet to thoroughly research the animal’s needs and what is needed to care for them properly, using expert sources and only consider keeping one if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for these needs.”

More from Weston Mercury

17:00

Weeks after activities at an environment centre used by children and vulnerable people were shut down, an independent education specialist has stepped in to help.

Read more

Worlebury Golf Club duo Lynne Johnson and Amanda Cook tasted success at the Somerset County Ladies Golf Association nine-hole Champion of Champions competition at Burnham & Berrow.

Read more

Weston Supers American football team recorded their first-ever victories in a double header in Exeter.

Read more
13 minutes ago

The theatre show Beautiful Thing is being staged in the South West this month.

Read more

Splitz Gymnastics Club members achieved some excellent results at the Honiton invitational competition.

Read more

Winscombe Ladies scored a goal with less than a minute gone against Plymouth University and went on to score two more to secure all three points.

Read more

Weston defeated bottom club Swindon to keep up their 100 per cent start to the season.

Read more
14:50

A popular go-karting and laser quest business in Weston-super-Mare has been forced to close today (Wednesday).

Read more
Weston-super-Mare

Uphill Badminton Club’s A team started the new season with mixed results, winning one and losing one match.

Read more

Weston Open Badminton Club enjoyed a busy week, with three matches in five days.

Read more

Most Read News

Read Online

Image
Read the Weston Worle and Somerset Mercury e-edition E-edition

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 9°C

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
Send Your Letters
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Newsletter Sign Up

Weston Mercury twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Show Job Lists