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Press Release April 2013

Wild animal market goes underground in South Wales

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.

APA recently praised Newport City Council for not playing host to the event, which was originally advertised to take place at the Newport International Sports Village. The Agency predicted that the event would then attempt to go underground. Chris Newman, spokesperson for the Federation of British Herpetologists (FBH) and the Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association (REPTA), has advised the market organisers not to tell the local council about the venue details. This way, the event can avoid inspection and enforcement.

Says Elaine Toland, Director of the Animal Protection Agency:

“Underground reptile markets, although rare, are reminiscent of the illicit raves in the 1990s. The obvious difference, however, is that the welfare of animals is at stake. We are appealing to Welsh residents that are, in any way, involved in hiring out venue facilities to check their booking diaries for 14 April. Wildlife market organisers are known to misrepresent the nature of these events when hiring venues, and often label them ‘reptile expos’ or ‘shows’ or ‘captive-breeding open days’ and similar.”

Section 2 of the Pet Animals Act 1951 prohibits the trading of pet animals at market stalls, and this was reinforced by a High Court Judicial Review in 2007. The law prevents pet animals from being traded in temporary environments where their welfare can be compromised. At these events, wild animals are packaged and displayed in small takeaway plastic boxes with little or no regard to their temperature or humidity requirements, meaning that animal suffering is inevitable. A scientific study last year showed that at least 75% of reptiles die within their first year in the home.

The APA is a science-based organisation that has liaised with numerous local authorities to stop unlawful wildlife selling through markets. Reptile and amphibian markets also pose a serious public health risk due to the close proximity of people to captive wildlife and the post-event contamination of the venues. The APA is also concerned to note that one of the organisers and sponsors of the planned underground event is a locally based pet shop, ‘B & T Parrots & Pets’, who the Agency is reporting to the relevant council for investigation because it considers that the local authority should review the pet shop’s licence given its links to underground activities.