Images showing animals at the Royal Easter Show with cuts and scratches have triggered an intense debate over their treatment.

Anna Skinner, a visitor to the annual Auckland show, said she was shocked to see how "sad" the animals looked. Images she posted on Facebook of pigs and sheep with cuts to their bodies have been shared more than 250 times since being published on Friday. They have also generated debate about the animals' well-being.

Skinner said she found the treatment of animals at the show "shocking" and it was "absolutely awful" to see. In her post, Skinner said she assumed the cuts were from a shearing competition, but that she expected better from the show.

An image of a sheep at the Easter Show after being shorn. Photo / Facebook
An image of a sheep at the Easter Show after being shorn. Photo / Facebook

The Royal Easter Show responded to the claims and photos by saying it took the "highest level of care" of all animals on-site and that all its animals were rested for three hours in blocks of one hour at a time to ensure they got a break.


"Our number one priority is the safety and well-being of all animals. We have a resident vet on-site as well as plenty of professional A&P members."

It said the sheep in the photos were rescued from the wild and are Merino wether - the same type of sheep as "Shrek", the famous unshorn male from a station near Tarras, in Central Otago.

Some of the sheep hadn't been shorn for years and that made them uncomfortable, it noted. As the sheep had a thick coat and needed to be shorn using blade shearers, nicks were common. Shearing is therefore a "case of two evils".

The sheep which had been photographed "has been treated with antiseptic regularly and is making a speedy recovery".

The pig had been kept in the pen after being cleared by an on-site vet for its "minor" scratches, the show's social post noted. The show "urges you to bring any matters of concern to us so we can have this addressed immediately".

When contacted by the Herald today, a spokeswoman for the Royal Easter Show reiterated that there was "no mistreating of animals whatsoever".

"We've got on-site vets to ensure that if anything was to happen to any of the animals then they're taken of..."

She added: "They're treated better being on site here than they would [be] if they were left at home by themselves, to be honest."

The Royal Easter Show is held at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane.

It has entertainment, circus acts, rides and exhibits and an A&P Show that has been running for more than 160 years.