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REPTILE FAIRS ALMOST EXTINCT - Bird fairs on the brink
Posted 1 December 2002
'If any person carries on a business of selling animals as pets in any part of a street or public place, or at a stall or barrow in a market, he shall be guilty of an offence'.Pet Animals Act 1951, as amended in 1983
Animal Aid's campaign to ensure that the above piece of legislation is enforced moves from strength to strength. Thanks to many of you writing letters of protest to Bradford Council after our request in the last Outrage (Animal Aid's quarterly magazine), fortnightly exotic bird auctions in that city are now a thing of the past, as are seedy reptile markets.
In September, we obtained undercover footage of two new reptile fairs. The first took place at a school in Norwich, permitted because the local council insisted that the school was not a public place! At some point it will have to admit that it was wrong, especially as we are now assisting police in investigating potential infringements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), as well as the Pet Animals Act. Also apparent to our undercover team was clear contempt for government guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of reptile related disease. These were well publicised in advance and Animal Aid even leafleted pupils at the high school to inform them of the salmonella health risks. Although environmental health inspectors barred food from being sold in the venue as a precaution, a burger van was spotted outside moments after they had left.
Another reptile fair took place in Redditch, organised by the same people behind the now defunct Bradford event. This time the council acknowledged that the venue - a working man's club - was a public place, but accepted the organiser's word that there would be no traders present and that they would not be carrying on a business. Instead - so they claimed - individuals would merely be selling their own pets! An undercover investigator from the Captive Animals' Protection Society, however, reported business as usual (i.e. commercial traders were present, disposing of their animals en masse). Redditch Borough Council will now have to admit that their trust was misplaced.
Animal Aid has also been working alongside an organisation called Birds First, which has done great work in stopping one-day bird fairs. One such event in Malvern had to be cancelled after organisers were threatened with prosecution by the council if they proceeded. On the day itself, thousands of people turned up not knowing that it had been cancelled.