Cornwall tortoise sanctuary classed as zoo
A tortoise sanctuary in Cornwall could face closure after council officials reclassified it as a zoo.
Joy Bloor, who runs the Tortoise Garden at Sticker, near St Austell, has been told her docile pets are wild and cannot be classed as domestic.
Cornwall Cornwall said it had "no choice" but to apply the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.
Mrs Bloor said she was "devastated" and would appeal as being classified as a zoo brought added costs.
"These tortoises are not wild and it's pretty obvious we're not a zoo," she said.'Spiralling' costs
She said the definition of a zoo was "an establishment which exhibits wild animals to the public".
She said that a zoo licence cost £262 but the sanctuary would not be able to afford the "spiralling" extra costs, such as paying for regular Defra vet inspections and vets' travelling expenses.
End Quote Lance Kennedy Cornwall Council
I can't see any danger in a tortoise, but we're stuck with bureaucracy”
Mrs Boor said she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received from members of the public, which has made her more determined to fight on.
"I am hoping that common sense will prevail," she added.
Lance Kennedy, from Cornwall Council, said it had "exhausted all avenues" but did not want the sanctuary to close.
"I can't see any danger in a tortoise, but we're stuck with bureaucracy," he said.
Mrs Bloor has run the sanctuary for about 11 years and has more than 400 tortoises, including many rare and endangered varieties.
Over the years she has cared for unwanted, abandoned, injured and illegally-imported tortoises, including ones brought to her by the RSPCA.
The sanctuary relies on donations from visitors, most of whom come to seek advice on the care of tortoises.
Cornwall Council has told Mrs Bloor she can apply to the Secretary of State for dispensation.