An animal sanctuary near Norwich has been left devastated after a cow and a bull they were hoping to give a home to were put to sleep.

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Hillside Animal Sanctuary, in Hall Lane, Frettenham, had wanted to look after the two animals - called Lloyd and Leila - after they heard that Stepney City Farm, in London’s East End, no longer felt it was able to.

However problems with the cattle’s paperwork meant they faced a battle for Lloyd and Leila to be allowed to travel to the Norfolk sanctuary.

Last week Hillside found out that Stepney City Farm had taken the decision to cull the animals which in 2011 had appeared with Nancy Dell’Ollio and Anton Du Beke in a Strictly Come Dancing sketch on TV.

A statement from Hillside said: “Thank you to all the caring people who joined our campaign to help these cows. RIP Lloyd and Leila, we all tried so hard to save you.”

John Watson, from Hillside, said: “We heard about Lloyd and Leila in October. They hadn’t been registered correctly at birth by the previous owner of the farm, and Stepney felt their farm was too small to keep them.”

He said an appeal was put in to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to allow the cows to travel to Hillside Animal Sanctuary, a petition calling for this also gathered thousands of signatures, and MP Jim Fitzpatrick was also involved in the campaign, but Mr Watson said Hillside received an email from Stepney last week saying they had decided to put Lloyd and Leila to sleep.

“We were disappointed that they had them put to sleep and it is a shame that Defra would not allow them to be moved,” Mr Watson said.

“We are just so sad that something wasn’t able to be done to save Lloyd and Leila. They were so friendly and tame and could have had a lovely life at Hillside.”

He said he understood Defra’s rules on the movement of animals were there for good reasons, but he added: “They weren’t going to be eaten so they would not be going into the human food chain, and they had a test showing that they did not have Bovine TB.”

A statement on Stepney City Farm’s website said Stepney took over the management of the farm, previously called Stepping Stones Farm, at the end of 2009 and found the farm vastly overstocked for its small site.

It said the farm worked to move many of the animals but they could not move Lloyd and Leila because they had not been registered at birth by the previous management and did not have “cow passports.”

The statement said that since 2009 the farm had been trying to seek a solution that would allow them to be moved while also working to improve the Lloyd and Leila’s living conditions, but that this month it had taken the difficult decision to cull Lloyd and Leila, and that this had now been done.

The statement from Stepney City Farm added: “We appreciate it is inevitable that some people will seek to criticise the farm, but would ask them to respect the fact that it is us, who looked after the animals on a daily basis over the past few years and who have worked so hard to allow them to be moved, who will be most affected by the decision that we have all, after much agonised deliberation, decided was unavoidable. Whilst we must take these difficult decisions and address and educate about the process of food production, it is a very sad day at the farm.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “In order to ensure food safety and prevent the spread of animal diseases, cattle which can’t be identified can’t be moved.”

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