Awareness about the undesirability of acquiring so-called exotic pets is growing. This is not before time, as snakes, lizards and now even meerkats are in demand and reptiles and birds for sale are illegally displayed in fairs across the country.

The Brighton-based Animal Protection Agency (APA), the UK organisation committed to ceasing the trade in wildlife for pets – – regularly takes action against them: Maidstone was the latest venue.

 The RSPCA is also opposed to the keeping of such animals and has produced a document called ‘Far from home’.

An important new study has confirmed the RSPCA’s fears that many internationally protected reptile species – though legally imported into the European Union (EU) – are highly susceptible to husbandry failures and often suffer and die in captivity.’ 

Animal Aid also campaigns against this disturbing development.

There is another concern. APA says:

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…

Animal traders and pet shop staff commonly lie about the origins of their animals and lead customers to believe, for example, that they are captive-bred when in fact they have been snatched from the wild. The capture and transportation process is so brutal that the majority of animals die before they reach the pet shop. The trade in wild animals for pets is driving many species towards extinction…

This is the latest news from APA: The trading of ‘pet’ animals at fairs and markets was banned in 1983.  A successful campaign by APA and other groups ensured that this ban will be carried forward into secondary legislation of the Animal Welfare Act. APA works hard to ensure that this legislation is enforced and in the last year, by working alongside local councils, it has succeeded in halving the number of illegal reptile fairs taking place in the UK.

Concerned QCA members might like to alert the APA should they find out about similar travelling zoos and markets in their own areas.