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REPTILE FAIR DIES A DEATH
Posted 24 September 2002
A reptile fair took place on Sunday 22 September 2002 at Hellesdon High School in Norwich, despite vociferous opposition from the campaign group, Animal Aid.
The group, however, is pleased that the event, which was accommodated in shoddy facilities, was poorly supported by traders who, in turn, were disappointed by low visitor attendance.
According to an estimate by an independent biologist, 2,000 to 3,000 animals were offered for sale and, as always at these events, there was little concern for animal welfare.
Says Elaine Toland of Animal Aid:
"Reptiles do not thrive in captivity - all that can be offered to them in an artificial environment is a basic life-support system which involves a finely controlled environment. At events such as these, the animals are denied even their basic requirements in terms of light, heat, space and ventilation. The reptiles suffer very high levels of stress and we can estimate from US pet industry data that the majority of these animals will die within a year."
Animal Aid has evidence gathered at the event of multiple violations of the Pet Animals Act 1951 and is also working with the police in investigating sales of threatened species.
Despite high profile warnings of potential salmonella risks, very poor hygiene measures were observed on the day. By allowing food to be provided, Hellesdon High School and Broadland District Council showed clear contempt for government guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of reptile-related disease.
Predictably, the council have said that they will not allow this event again. The Chief Executive, Colin Bland has said:
"...if sales of animals as pets in a public place were taking place, all the Council would be able to do, under Section 2 of the Act, is to prosecute (after the event) the person carrying on the business of selling the animals as pets in a public place."
This was after the Council Leader, Simon Woodbridge expressed his view to the Chief Executive that:
"...the fair organisers would have appeared to have under-informed owners of premises, resulting in permission being given to use the site in the first place. I consider it appropriate to send a circular to all parishes in the District to raise awareness to any such approach..."