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After years of campaigning by the UK wild animal protection group Animal Protection Agency (APA), one of the UK’s last reptile public markets is to stop. APA finally convinced Doncaster Council, in Yorkshire, England, to end the annual event organised by the International Herpetological Society. The final one will take place at Doncaster Racecourse on 19th June 2022.

For a long time, animal rights activists have tried to stop this sort of event claiming that they are illegal, as trading in pet animals at market stalls was outlawed almost 40 years ago because animal welfare cannot be ensured in temporary and makeshift environments. However, organisers have been relying on loopholes claiming that there is no trading in these shows, but only display. Numerous undercover investigators (including myself) have provided evidence over the years of unequivocal trading of live exotic animals happening in these types of events, and therefore they should be considered unlawful. Exposé after exposé have led to their closure one after another. 

Councillor David Shaw, chair of Doncaster Council’s licensing committee, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “APA has worked tirelessly and professionally to end potentially illegal trading. 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.”In a press release, APA said, “Reptile market organisers planned four events for 2022, the first of which took place on 3rd April. At every event investigated by APA during a long-running campaign, evidence was recorded that it considered to show unlawful animal trading, as well as widespread animal suffering. Throughout the event’s history, many thousands of sensitive wild animals have been treated like inanimate commodities – displayed and sold in small, plastic takeaway tubs. APA has worked, over several years, with English and Welsh councils to clamp down on reptile markets and as a result, the Doncaster reptile market was the last of its kind in the UK. APA greatly appreciates the time that Council Officers have taken to examine the evidence provided to them, and will continue to offer further assistance if needed. The hard work and conscientious commitment of supportive Councillors has ensured that reptile markets no longer have a place in Doncaster. APA also acknowledges the vital role played by World Animal Protection in bringing this issue to the public’s attention. Their campaign led to the Council being inundated with letters about the event, which ultimately helped to finish one of the largest reptile markets in Europe.”