The Animal Protection Agency (APA) is the UK organisation committed to ceasing the trade in wildlife for pets. Perhaps unbelievably, it is still legal in Britain to sell wild animals captured from other countries. The majority of wild-trapped animals die from the stress and disease that is associated with every stage of their harrowing journey. Next to habitat destruction, collection of animals for the pet trade is the main reason for the decline in many species. Attempts to regulate and control the trade have globally failed. The problem is getting worse, and time is running out! This site contains information on who we are, our current campaigns and how you can help us..
October 2016 The Animal Protection Agency (APA) has praised Basildon Borough Council for taking a proactive stance on illegal animal trading and has issued an urgent warning to venue managers throughout Essex. Last week, one venue took the responsible action of refusing a booking from reptile market organisers and now APA and the Council are on the alert in case the organisers seek to stage an event elsewhere or next year. Read the press release.
February 2016 Experts from around the world have, for a second time, comprehensively pulled apart a deeply flawed study, which found that 3.6% of reptiles die within their first year in the home. The findings of this latest study are wildly at odds with a more reliable study showing that at least 75% of these animals die in their first year. Read the latest response and our article and full discussion.
December 2015 Controversial research into pet reptile death rates in the home has been criticised as misleading by some of the world’s top experts in reptile science. The study estimated that 3.6% of pet reptiles die within their first year in the home. APA, alongside reptile experts, say that distorted conclusions may have been a consequence of the flawed methodology underpinning the study. Read the press release and our scientific critique.
December 2015 Exotic pet keeping may date back thousands of years to when remote tribal people commandeered wild animals or opened their doors to them, but the level of abuse endured by captive wildlife then was minor compared with the injustices and scale of the ‘modern’ pet industry. As biologist and medical scientist Clifford Warwick argues in his latest article in Veterinary Practice, pet trading and keeping is one of the few businesses that gets worse with time and it is wrongly propped up by a minority of vets and civil servants. Read the article.
December 2015 APA, alongside Froglife and Eurogroup for Animals, is calling on DEFRA to impose an immediate ban on the commercial salamander and newt trade in line with a Council of Europe recommendation. Immediate restrictions on the salamander and newt trade will help prevent the spread of a new deadly fungal disease capable of wiping out salamander and newt populations. Read our press release.
July 2015 APA has welcomed today’s High Court ruling that Arun District Council acted properly in warning Fontwell Park Racecourse of a substantial risk of unlawful activity at an exotic pet market planned for 27 October 2013. The Racecourse heeded the Council’s warnings and cancelled the event. Judicial Review proceedings were subsequently brought against Arun Council by exotic pet market organisers who claimed that the Council had no power to ‘procure the cancellation of the event’. Read the press release and the High Court judgment.
March 2015 ‘Good Practice Guidelines for the Welfare of Privately Kept Reptiles & Amphibians’ released last week by the ‘Federation of British Herpetologists’ (FBH) have received guarded support from the Animal Protection Agency (APA), an organisation that campaigns against the exotic pet trade. An independent scientific review of the document found that whilst the Guidelines were ‘largely replete with errors and misleading content’, some useful animal welfare information was also included that may help to address the appalling conditions inherent to the private ownership and trade involving wild animals as pets. Read the press release and the scientific review.
March 2015 Kempton Park Racecourse has today confirmed that it has refused a booking for a controversial reptile market planned to take place on 16 August 2015. The event, billed as the ‘Kempton Park Reptile Expo’, had become an annual affair and featured over 130 stalls selling reptiles and amphibians as pets - despite it being illegal to trade pet animals from market stalls! Read more
October 2013 A reptile and amphibian market due to take place this Sunday (27th October) has been cancelled by the venue, Fontwell Park Racecourse, on advice from Arun District Council. This is great news but APA now fears that exotic pet market organisers may now, at the last minute, be searching out a new venue and warns local venue managers against hosting the event. Read more
April 2013 A statement issued today by Doncaster Council has confirmed that a criminal prosecution brought by them against Mr Adam Wilford of AC Snakes, Leicestershire, has resulted in a formal caution being issued to Wilford for selling snakes at a market stall in June 2012. Mr Wilford, who describes himself as ‘private breeder’, initially denied the offence, but finally admitted to “carrying on a business” of selling animals as pets at a market, and was issued with a caution. Read more
April 2013 Organisers of a wild animal market planned for Sunday 14th April 2013 to sell reptiles and amphibians now claim to have found a new venue in Newport after being ousted from Council premises. Amidst serious concerns that the event could involve illegal wildlife trading and pose a public health and safety risk, the event organisers have said that venue details will not be announced until council offices close on Friday 12th April. The Animal Protection Agency (APA) is appealing for any information that may be helpful in tracking down the market - which may occur in or around the Newport area. Read more.
April 2013 In 1976, the trade and keeping of reptiles and amphibians in Norway was banned on animal welfare grounds. In 2008, after being alerted by the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance (NAPA) to a proposal to open trade for a limited number of species, APA commissioned a preliminary evaluation of the proposal before working with NAPA to recruit the support of like-minded organisations. A 65-page independent scientific assessment was then commissioned, which concluded that no reptiles or amphibians make suitable pets. Thanks to this collaborative effort we are now celebrating a victory for wildlife following the Norwegian government’s announcement that the 37-year old ban on reptile and amphibian keeping and trading will be upheld. Read more.
March 2013 APA has praised Newport City Council for being the latest in a long line of local authorities that have not played host to wild animal dealers selling from jumble sale-like markets. APA has provided evidence to the Council that the event could attract illegal trading and also pose a serious public health risk. Read more.
January 2013 A recent report by two individuals who take bookings for stalls at Terraristika, a large wildlife-trading event in Germany, has been dismissed by one of APA’s scientific team as ‘amateuristic and spurious’. The report demonstrates the authors’ embarrassing lack of knowledge in attempting understand and critique an independent scientific report on European pet markets, which was commissioned by APA and six other European organisations. Three leading experts in reptile biology and public health who carried out the investigation of pet markets found that: conditions and treatment of animals at markets in the UK, Spain and Germany were ‘tantamount to animal abuse’; that public health risks were significant; and that ecological threats were associated with all three events. When asked to comment on the trade’s attempt to defend their wildlife-trading event, Catrina Steedman (scientific co-author of the EU pet markets study) responded:
“It is not necessary for us to read or comment on unscientific reports of this nature.”
August 2012 A new scientific study of the exotic pet trade has found that at least 75% of pet snakes, lizards, tortoises and turtles die within one year in the home.
APA Director, Elaine Toland, teamed up with two of the world’s leading authorities in reptile biology, Clifford Warwick FSB and Phillip Arena PhD, to undertake a scientific research project looking into the annual mortality rate among UK reptiles, as well as ecological and public health issues. The research culminated in the publication of a major article on the exotic pet trade in The Biologist, published by the Society of Biology, which is one of the world’s most respected bioscience organizations, and the ‘voice of biology’.
Elaine Toland, Director of the Animal Protection Agency says: “The fact that most reptiles die within a year is truly tragic, and is probably unresolvable because reptiles and captivity simply don’t mix… A ban on this high turnover trade in ‘disposable’ animals is long overdue.”
Clifford Warwick, Biologist and Medical Scientist says: “The trading and keeping of exotic pets is responsible for decades of ecological, animal welfare and public health harm on a massive scale.”
Phillip Arena, Reptile Biologist, Murdoch University says: “Major threats such as habitat loss and climate change mean there is simply less wildlife out there… The impacts of the exotic pet industry are additional burdens the world does not need.”
June 2012 This is a call to whistleblowers in the reptile-keeping community! We are seeking further information from you now in the event that reptile sellers arrive at the Dome market and fail to heed the prohibition on sales imposed by Doncaster Council and therefore attempt to break the law. In order to verify and forward any additional information in good time to HMRC we would need this information before 1500hrs Friday 15th June. Read more.
June 2012 A "total prohibition on animal sales" has been imposed by Doncaster Council on a reptile market due to take place on Sunday 17th June 2012 at The Dome. The Council confirmed in writing to APA that the Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust (the venue manager) would advise the event organisers today (12 June) that not a single animal is permitted to be sold at the event or its surroundings e.g car parks. Read more.
May 2012 APA advised Warrington Borough Council that the event, if allowed to proceed as planned, would involve illegal animal trading. Prompt and decisive action by Warrington Borough Council Officers lead to the reptile market being cancelled. Read more.
May 2012 Thanks to a tip off from APA, and the work of conscientious Barking and Dagenham Council officials, the event due to take place on 12 May 2012 at the Castle Green Sports Centre in Dagenham, will not now be taking place. Read more.
May 2012 For the second year running, the London Pet Show, due to take place on 12-13 May at Earls Court Two, is heavily promoting the exotic pet trade. The Animal Protection Agency (APA) has condemned the Show promoters for being out of step with modern scientific evidence, which shows the harm inherent to exotic pet-keeping. Read more.
May 2012 A new independent scientific report, jointly commissioned by APA, International Animal Rescue, Eurogroup for Animals and other European animal protection groups, has resulted in calls for an EU-wide ban on exotic pet markets. The report was this week presented to Caroline Lucas MP and Keith Taylor MEP who will press for the recommendations to be adopted in the interests of protecting animal welfare, public health and biodiversity. Read our press release and the report (or report summary).
Dec 2011 In late 2010, 20 baby spectacled caiman crocodiles were imported into Cyprus, destined to be sold as pets, and were subsequently euthanized by a method known to cause pain and suffering. Following the refusal of the Cypriot authorities to fully account for the events that led up to the destruction of these animals, an independent report was commissioned by APA. The report raises several serious outstanding concerns — not least that CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) refused to take action on the issue. APA is calling on the European Commission to investigate the matter and you can help by writing to your MEP using our sample letter.
Apr 2011 The TV series, Essex Jungle, started this week, showing wildlife in its unnatural habitat. And as much as it may have intended to show the "quirkiness" of exotic pet-keeping, the show was very revealing of what some would simply call "animal abuse". Read more
Sep 2010 If you have received an email proporting to be from the APA asking for your card details, please be warned this a scam. Please report it to thenational police fraud unit on 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.org.uk/report_fraud. Note that the website at animal-protection-agency.co.uk is a fake clone of the real website http://www.apa.org.uk/.
We are hoping to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.
Aug 2010 The handmade cosmetic company, Lush, has teamed up with APA to launch a nationwide campaign to counter the growing popularity of reptiles as pets. The Lush campaign features in-store parties aimed at under 12-yr olds with a reptile quiz, arts and crafts, and information to take away about why reptiles don't make good pets. Those clever alchemists at Lush have even formulated a limited edition, colour-changing chameleon bath ballistic to raise funds for APA's work (on sale throughout August, priced at £2.50). Read more.
Jun 2010 The Animal Protection Agency and International Animal Rescue have condemned Doncaster Council for failing to take action to stop unlawful animal trading at a reptile market at the Doncaster Dome. Illegal animal dealers will line their pockets while thousands of wild animals suffer as a result of the council's shameful inaction. Read more.
May 2010 College students and lecturers in animal care and veterinary nursing attended a seminar, co-sponsored by the APA Foundation, at the Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary on 7 May 2010 to learn more about the exotic pet trade. Read more.
Apr 2010 Following our investigation at last year's event APA and International Animal Rescue are delighted that Maidstone Borough Council has effectively refused permission for a reptile market due to take place on Sunday, 18 April 2010. Read more.
Mar 2010 APA has praised Trafford Council for bringing a prosecution against the boss of Major's Pet Shop in Sale, Greater Manchester for selling a goldfish to a 14-year old boy and for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. We call on other councils to follow their example and take action against pet dealers who are known to routinely break the law. Read more.
Feb 2010 Valentines Day is well and truly over as a new government campaign warns
that reptiles should be kept at a distance. The Health Protection Agency (HPA)
has launched a leaflet to inform of the risks of salmonella infections
associated with reptile-keeping:
http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1259152366014 Read more
Jun 2009 Diseases to both humans and wild animals could flood into Norway on a tide of imported exotic animals if the Norwegian government lifts a long-term ban on the keeping of reptiles and amphibians as pets. APA has teamed up with groups lobbying for better animal protection on both sides of the North Sea to plead with the Norwegian government not to re-open trade and suffer deadly outcomes - as already seen in Britain... Read more.
Mar 2009 A fabulous fundraising event attended by celebrities took place on Friday 27th March 2009 at The Old Market Theatre, Hove to raise funds for the Animal Protection Agency and International Animal Rescue. The event, which was generously sponsored by Sussex-based catering company, VegOut raised a fantastic £13,405 for the two organisations. Read more.
Feb 2009 Caroline Lucas is a politician with passion. Championing environmentalism, human rights and animal welfare, the Green Party Leader and MEP is now making a bid for Westminster.
APA Director, Elaine Toland, caught up with Caroline in a vegetarian café in Brighton... read more.
Nov 2008 APA's Director, Elaine Toland, attended the fourth annual conference of ENDCAP (a European network of wildlife protection groups and specialist consultants), which took place from 9th - 11th November in Brussels.
As Co-Chair of the Trade and Capture of Wildlife Committee, Elaine Toland proposed key projects to tackle the trade in wild animals as pets and received good support... Read more
Terraristika, possibly the world's largest exotic animal fair, which takes place in Hamm, Germany, is the subject of a shocking, new docu-film by APA and International Animal Rescue. The images are powerful and the narration elucidates the inhumanities and wastefulness of the reptile trade - a trade which, disturbingly, is on the increase.
APA teamed up with the International Animal Rescue to carry out a joint investigation of Terraristika - the largest and most notorious reptile fair in Europe, which took place on 15 March 2008. After viewing footage of the event, Clifford Warwick, world-renowned reptile biologist, gave us his damning opinion.
A powerful new poster spelling out the tragic fate of many animals in the exotic pet trade is available from APA. Click on the image to see the larger version in PDF format.
To raise awareness of the suffering of animals in the exotic pet trade and to promote the simple message that exotic animals do not make good pets, APA has produced two new educational flyers. (see right)
Whilst the Government is preparing new, draft guidelines for pet shops, APA has released its Six-Point Plan. This document outlines essential changes that would bring about much-needed improvements to the way pet shops operate. APA proposes that pet shops failing to meet the basic conditions set out in the Six-Point Plan should not be allowed to sell animals.
APA has uncovered a sickening trade in dogs at horse markets in England and Wales, showing that it is not only exotic animals that suffer at temporary events. Caged litters of puppies are sold in abysmal conditions and offered for sale at bargain prices.
APA welcomes prompt action by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to prohibit bird fairs and exhibitions as a measure to hopefully halt the spread of avian influenza.
Read the full media release.
11 Jan 2007 EU animal health experts have introduced new measures that mean a permanent end to the commercial importation of wild birds into the European Union for the pet trade. Under the new rules, which form part of a strategy to combat avian influenza, only imports of captive-bred birds will be permitted.
Read the full media release.
11 Oct 2006 Exactly two years to the day after APA investigated the Stafford Bird Fair, DEFRA announced that they now intend to ban the commercial trading of animals at pet fairs when the Animal Welfare Bill comes into force next year. This is the news that we have all been waiting for and it is precisely what you as our supporters, and we here at campaign headquarters, wanted.
In October 2004 we made a documentary film about the Stafford bird market which led to a local resident taking Stafford Council to court for allowing the event. The resulting decision of the High Court was that such events were illegal and that ruling has led DEFRA to revise its approach and ban commercial sales of animals, which includes birds, reptiles and mammals at temporary markets.
Like us, you were appalled at the inherent inhumanity of selling pet animals, including wildlife, from stalls in marketplaces and the disturbing stresses they faced while being transported to and fro across the country until sold or dead.
Like us, you knew that is was wrong to treat sensitive animals in the ways they were subjected to at pet markets and you, too, were determined to see the end of these events.
Like us, no doubt you warmly welcome the Government's new measures that offer all of us what we have strived to achieve - a better, safer and compassionate future for those animals that need our protection.
While we have more work to do in supporting the Government's new plans, and to continue to monitor future progress, I cannot help but take this early opportunity to say a heartfelt and happy thank you to you, our supporters, who have been with us all the way and who have, with your generosity and confidence, carried us this far. I know you will be with us for the rest of this journey, but for now -
Elaine Toland MRSH
In a sudden turn of events, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has today announced that it proposes to ban commercial trading at pet fairs in the new Animal Welfare Bill. The Animal Protection Agency (APA), which spearheaded a campaign to stamp out such barbaric trading of mainly exotic, wild-caught animals, has commended the Government and now looks forward to the Bill receiving Royal Assent.
Other organisations that opposed commercial pet markets include, the British Veterinary Association, RSPCA, RSPB, BioVeterinary Group, BirdsFirst, International Fund for Animal Welfare, World Society for the Protection of Animals, Captive Animals Protection Society, Born Free Foundation, Animal Aid, Wildlife Conservation Society, New Life Parrot Rescue and the Tortoise Trust. APA will now be holding talks with its many associate organisations to discuss how best they can support DEFRA with their new plans.
A Judicial Review judgement in June cleared-up any ambiguity relating to the current law on pet fairs, and DEFRA described it as a "useful contribution to the debate". The APA are in concert with Animal Welfare Minister, Ben Bradshaw, that DEFRA's revised measures will help to provide "the best protection yet for animals at pet fairs."
Elaine Toland, Director of APA, said:
"The Government's new and clear intention to prohibit commercial trading of animals at pet fairs is a most welcome advancement for animal welfare that sits comfortably in a Bill designed to bring about real improvements in the way we treat animals. The Animal Welfare Bill, with this latest commitment, ensures genuine protection for countless thousands of pet and wild animals.
Clifford Warwick, Consultant Biologist and Medical Scientist, said: "For many years I've been familiar with the worrisome issue of commercial trading of wildlife at pet fairs. Combined, the hard work of many local authorities to stamp out these events has been constructively built on by animal welfare groups such as the APA and more recently the High Court. DEFRA's revised position to ban commercial selling of animals at pet fairs is arguably the most important and positive move on this subject for a long time. It is to be welcomed and is sure to be widely supported in the key circles."
The "Stop UK Pet Markets" campaign also enjoyed the support of world- renowned experts in biology, conservation and medicine. The APA campaign team were heartened by the enormous cross-party support right up to high- level discussions with MPs, Ministers and Peers. Cherie Blair, Gordon Brown and Environment Minister, David Miliband, personally expressed to APA their genuine interest in the issue.
Issued: October 10, 2006
Two years ago, an orchestrated campaign by animal dealers and keepers resulted in over a dozen complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a national campaign by APA and Lush (the environmentally friendly cosmetics company and APA supporter) to highlight the suffering of pet reptiles. APA provided scientific data proving our claim that most pet reptiles die within their first year in the home – the data showed that 70% of reptiles die each year. Whilst the ASA acknowledged this disturbing figure, they bizarrely claimed that this did not constitute ‘most’!! Regardless, new research casts aside the flawed ASA adjudication. Read more.
More than 80,000 people lined the streets for Brighton's first ever marathon on 18 April 2010. APA supporters turned out to cheer our heroic runner, Russell Akehurst, who completed the course in an impressive 4hrs 26 mins!
Many thanks to Russell for his hard work and dedicated training - especially during the severe winter weather conditions. Thanks also to all our supporters who kindly sponsored him. The total raised so far is £2,566!
We are still receiving sponsorship money, so it is not too late to sponsor Russell if you haven't done so yet.
For as little as £1 per tropical tree - and a personalised gift certificate for a minimum of ten trees - you can make a genuine difference to conservation efforts in Ecuador. Read more...
The Animal Protection Agency has teamed up with New Life Parrot Rescue to offer 'virtual adoptions' of some of the birds in its care. Read more...
Long-term APA Supporter, Kevin White, completed the Birmingham Half Marathon on Sunday 26th October 2008, in an impressive 2 hours 16 mins! It's still not too late to sponsor Kevin who, despite sustaining a painful injury during training, was fueled by a desire to raise much-needed funds for APA, VIVA! and the West Midlands Vegan Festival.
Elaine Toland, Director of APA, discusses pet fairs with key Government figures - Gordon Brown, Ben Bradshaw and Cherie Blair
New measures warmly welcomed - so too are your thanks
The Government's new measures to ban the commercial sale of animals at pet fairs are warmly welcomed. MPs across all parties have already expressed to us their pleasure and approval at this latest news.
Please write to your own MP and say thanks for their support and interest. We have certainly been impressed by the amount of time, dedication and passion that MPs and Lords have given to the pet fairs issue.
Ask your MP to maintain a close and ongoing interest in the progress of the Animal Welfare Bill so that the new ban can take effect as soon as possible after the Bill becomes law.
Please also send a warm note to Animal Welfare Minister, Ben Bradshaw at Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR, commending him and his Department on their latest and most positive move forward in animal protection. You can use our sample letter as a model or compose your own.
This beautiful watercolour painting has been created exclusively for the Animal Protection Agency from the palette of artist Steve Hutton. It is only available through APA to supporters who donate £5 per month by standing order. Each A3 print is personally signed and numbered by the artist and the print run is strictly limited to one thousand.