APA: On the wild side
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Press Release March 2006

Bird markets not sitting pretty after poll

The great British public has given a resounding thumbs down to Government plans to legalise pet markets. Over two thirds of those asked (68%) believed that exotic animals should not be sold from stalls at markets, while only 4% believed that they should (out of the remainder, 22% did not express an opinion and the rest either did not know or refused to answer).

The recent Ipsos MORI Poll was commissioned by the Animal Protection Agency (APA) - a national organisation that campaigns against the trade in wild animals as pets ahead of the next stage of the Animal Welfare Bill on Tuesday 14th March 2006. The Bill contains very positive measures for animal welfare but buried within it is a proposal to legalise pet markets. Each and every MP has been notified of the poll findings and urged to vote on Tuesday for an amendment to carry forward the existing ban on the commercial sale of pets by market traders and street vendors.

Elaine Toland, Director of APA, says:
"The results are no surprise in this climate given the very obvious health risks associated with bird markets either that or we really are a nation of animal lovers! Given the public sentiment and the fact that all major animal welfare organisations and veterinary bodies are against pet markets as well as the considerable weight of opposition from public health experts, the Government should now review its plan to de-criminalise these events."

Organisations already opposed to pet markets include, the British Veterinary Association, RSPCA, RSPB, Animal Protection Agency, 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, and the Tortoise Trust. Opposition to pet markets has also been expressed in hobbyist magazines, read by genuine exotic animal keepers.

DEFRA carried out a public consultation before drafting the Animal Welfare Bill, for which they were severely criticised by the Environment Select Committee for asking a leading question on pet markets. DEFRA was taken to task for presuming that pet fairs should be legalised without first consulting widely on the issue and for launching the consultation with the question of 'how' pet fairs should be regulated without first asking 'whether' they should be legalised! APA has condemned DEFRA for basing its pet market proposal on the skewed results obtained from its flawed consultation.

DEFRA has also previously admitted that it has no scientific evidence to defend its claim that lifting the ban on pet markets, as part of the Animal Welfare Bill, will not cause animal suffering.

Note to editors:

The Ipsos MORI Poll, commissioned by the Animal Protection Agency was conducted between 27 January and 2 February 2006. Out of 1,000 people questioned, the survey found that 68% believed that exotic animals should not be sold at markets, while only 4% believed that they should - the remainder of those asked either did not have an opinion on the subject (22%), did not know (5%), or refused to answer (1%).

Issued March 9, 2006