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Press Release January 2005

Showground comes under pressure to cancel bird market

Newark Showground is coming under increasing pressure to cancel a proposed exotic bird market on 13 February 2005. The Animal Protection Agency (APA), a national organisation campaigning against the trade in wild animals for pets, is in agreement with Newark & Sherwood District Council that the event is likely to involve illegal bird selling. The showground and the event organiser have been warned that they may face prosecution if the event goes ahead.

A five-page legal document sent to the Council by APA's lawyers, detailed why sales of birds at the event are likely to contravene the Pet Animals Act 1951. A team of APA investigators, which included two veterinary surgeons and a biologist, attended a forerunner of the proposed event last November and gathered filmed evidence of thousands of birds in dire conditions some very clearly suffering.

It was estimated that over 20,000 birds were on sale. The veterinary inspectors described the event as unmanageable in terms of protecting animal welfare and preventing health risks to the public. Captive exotic birds carry many diseases that are easily transmissible to people and in a confined space such as the showground these risks are greatly exacerbated.

Bird markets and other sales of pet animals in public places were outlawed in 1983. They still occasionally occur due to poor local authority enforcement. Wildlife dealers are known to operate through pet markets and make use of these outlets to sell their sick and dying birds.

Pet markets are condemned by a large number of animal welfare organisations including the RSPCA, IFAW, BirdsFirst, Animal Aid and the Captive Animals' Protection Society.

Says Elaine Toland, Director of APA: "We can say from experience that if the proposed event goes ahead, then criminal activity is inevitable. We would be very surprised if Newark Showground, which is managed by a charitable organisation, became knowingly involved in illegal animal dealing. They would also be extremely foolish to run the risk of being prosecuted for offences potentially carrying prison sentences."

Newark Showground has made a public commitment that it will cancel the event if advised by the Council that it could involve illegal activity.

Issued: 1 February 2005

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ACTION

Please write to Mr Adrian Johnston, Newark Showground, Winthorpe, Newark, Notts NG24 2NY or e-mail him on adrian@newarkshowground.com Remind Mr Johnson that he made a public commitment to cancel the proposed bird market if informed by the Council that it could involve illegal activity and that he should now keep to his word. Also, ask Mr Johnston why he would risk being prosecuted and having his charity associated with illegal animal dealing.