Every year, Doncaster Racecourse plays host to the UK’s largest reptile market. It’s the last of its kind in the UK, and is known for selling animals in small, plastic tubs.
But after June this year, the fair will no longer be welcome in Doncaster. A successful animal rights campaign brought its contract to a close.
After it was provided with evidence of animal suffering by the Animal Protection Agency (APA), Doncaster Council announced it will not extend the contract for the event.
The International Herpetological Society (IHS), which hosted the event, has been investigated a number of times by APA.
According to IHS, its shows allow its members to “buy and sell their surplus animals and offspring.” But a number of activists and councilors believe that animal markets should end for good in the UK.
An ‘abhorrent’ business
Councillor David Shaw, the chair of Doncaster Council’s licensing committee, said in a statement: “Whilst I accept that many exotic animal keepers care for their animals, I find this business abhorrent and something that should not take place in the UK – and certainly not in Doncaster.”
IHS’s event organizer Richard Brook accused APA of animal rights extremism, harassment, and “corporate bullying” in order to have the event canceled.
But according to APA, the UK “outlawed” market pet trading “almost forty years ago.”
This was “on the grounds that animal welfare cannot be ensured in temporary and makeshift environments.”
Images taken by APA at IHS events depict snakes kept in small boxes and geckos trapped inside small plastic tubs.
Reptile biologist Dr. Clifford Warwick says that reptiles are “highly sensitive” to these restrictive conditions. He praised APA and Doncaster Council for canceling the contract and “safeguarding animal welfare.”
Warwick said: “In my view, the reptile markets at Doncaster have for years been a blight on the welfare of these wild animals.”