New kids on the block: Welsh town invaded by goats

Paying no heed to social distancing rules, a herd of goats has overrun locked-down Llandudno.

Goats - reuters
Herd immunity: Dozens of goats have munched their way through hedges and gardens in the town of Llandudno in the Welsh county of Conwy [Carl Recine/Reuters]

A Welsh seaside town has been invaded by a herd of Kashmir goats after the coronavirus lockdown left the streets deserted.

The animals, who normally roam free on a nearby headland jutting out into the Irish Sea, have instead wandered into Llandudno, where they have spent the past three days feasting on garden hedges and flowers.

Like other countries affected by the global coronavirus crisis, the United Kingdom has imposed strict social distancing measures including shop and school closures, and the authorities are asking everyone to stay at home except for essential travel.

UK begins coronavirus lockdown (2:12)

With the streets of Llandudno unnaturally quiet, the goats have been free to wander undisturbed.

Town councillor Carol Marubbi said the goats didn’t normally come into town unless the weather was awful, but on this occasion, she said they probably realised something unusual was going on because there were so few people around.

“I think they’re probably feeling a bit lonely and they have come down to have a look around,” she told Reuters by telephone.

Nanny state

Kashmir goats have lived on the Great Orme promontory near Llandudno since the days of Queen Victoria, when the species became popular in the UK due to a fashion for shawls made from their soft cashmere wool.

I'd trust the goats to run this place more than the Conservatives, that's for sure

by Conwy County Councillor Aaron Wynne, Plaid Cymru

Marubbi said the herd of about 150 goats, some of whom had kids in February, were a well-known local attraction and most residents did not mind having their hedges nibbled by them.

“I’m a big fan,” she said. “I love them because they are characters.”

Many locals have welcomed the town’s latest bearded personalities.

“I’d trust the goats to run this place more than the Conservatives, that’s for sure,” Aaron Wynne, a Plaid Cymru county councillor for Conwy, told Al Jazeera.

“More seriously though, while it is lovely to see the local wildlife enjoying the situation, years of totally unnecessary austerity from the Tory government have made this crisis much worse than it needs to be. I’m very worried for our older people.”

The UK’s death toll is currently doubling every 3.5 days. The London government did initiate a series of movement restrictions more than a week ago, having previously taken a markedly different plan of attack to many other countries and taking a gradual approach to containing the virus. Boris Johnson’s administration has also been criticised for not joining a European Union-wide procurement scheme for buying medical ventilators, an oversight it has blamed on an email error.

But the epidemic is showing signs of slowing in the UK and antibody tests could be ready in days, Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, said on Monday.

And Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, also said there were signs that locking down the country a week ago had slowed the rate of transmission of the virus.

With millions of people stuck at home sharing light-hearted content online to alleviate the tedium of the lockdown, images and video of the goats roving around the streets of Llandudno have been a hit on social media, with #goats and #Llandudno trending on Twitter.

“Just love this. Looks like they are definitely in charge,” wrote Welsh Twitter user Sue Foster, a former primary school head teacher.

“Who we gonna call? Goat busters.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies