I live in China; my closest large supermarket is Tesco. One day I was looking at the plant section when I noticed, tucked away and barely visible, five small red eared slider turtles in tiny individual plastic boxes. They were on sale as pets. They were in a terrible condition; 4 of the 5 had swollen eyes, two were in dry boxes and another was sitting in filth. None had access to water or food. I couldn’t leave them in that terrible condition and I bought all of them so I could care for them. On the way out of the store I noticed a huge Tesco sign saying they take responsibility for their products and how they source them.
I took the turtles to the vet, the blindness is caused by a vitamin deficiency because they have not been raised on a suitable diet, and as a consequence they are blind. Turtles do not eat if they cannot see. The vet said I needed to rub vitamin oil into their skin; however they may be blind or too far malnourished to be saved. As turtles are slow growing with slow metabolisms it takes a long time for them to die. Unfortunately 3 of the 5 have died since I visited the vets.
I wrote to Tesco to ask them to stop selling Turtles in this state, they responded saying due to cultural reasons they sold the turtles. I challenged this, as I am aware of the cultural significance of Turtles in China; however that doesn’t justify the terrible condition these little creatures were in. I also challenged their advertising, saying they were not responsibly sourcing products. They wrote back saying they would not change their policy to sell turtles as pets in their stores.
Tesco is in a state of change, it’s a good time for them to re-evaluate their buying ethics abroad. Please ask Dave Lewis, the new CEO to stop selling mistreated and malnourished creatures as pets and to put an end to Tesco's false advertising.