ANIMAL welfare campaigners demonstrated outside Tesco in Cirencester town centre last Saturday to protest against the store's trade in live turtles in China.

Several protesters handed out leaflets in the Brewery Car Park to highlight what they believe is cruel and barbaric.

Animal rights group VIVA has launched a national campaign to put pressure on the international supermarket chain to stop selling the animals over the counter as food, which is illegal in the UK.

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Protester Joyce Moss, from Cirencester, said: "The leaflets went out quicker than any leaflets I have ever distributed.

"In one-and-a-half hours we distributed 600 leaflets and 200 postcards and the general feeling was outrage."

A Tesco spokesman said: "Tesco sells turtles in its Chinese stores which are a traditional and popular part of the Chinese diet. They are reared on farms for food production, not caught in the wild.

"As a result of considerable research, we've made significant improvements to the way they are sold in our stores.

"This has included, withdrawing from sale hard-shelled turtles and introducing more humane slaughter methods for soft-shelled turtles.

"Finding a balance between the very important issue of animal welfare and the traditions of other countries is not always easy.

"Nonetheless we have made real improvements, which have been recognised by some animal welfare charities."