Wokingham Borough Council, the local authority of a market town in Berkshire, England, has banned giving live animals as prizes at funfairs. The Council said the issue predominantly concerned goldfish, traditionally put in a plastic bag and given as a prize. The ban means fairgrounds will not be allowed to give out live animals as prizes on land owned by the local authority. Councillor Gary Cowan said to the BBC that giving live animals as prizes in any form was “abhorrent”, and that this tradition was “not how society in the 21st Century should work.”

Scotland already made this practice illegal as far back as 2006, at least 22 local authorities in England have already implemented similar bans (such as Bristol, Shropshire, or Lindsey District Council) and some in Wales too (such as Vale of Glamorgan, Newport City, Caerphilly County Borough Council, etc.). It’s time for a UK-wide ban.

Although the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has been running a campaign for this type of ban, it is ironic they do not object to keeping goldfish captive in small tanks, only to giving them as prizes at fairs, as if these are the only situations where there would be animal welfare problems. Fishes of any species are sentient beings capable to feel pain and to experience suffering (we recommend Jonathan Balcombe‘s book “What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousin” to have a good understanding of their lives), and they should not be kept captive in any situation — from a plastic bag on the way from the funfair to the bowl at home, to the big public aquaria with big tanks. Equally ironic, those who do not want to contribute to animal suffering with their diets would have failed in their ambitions if they ditched dairy, eggs, and flesh from mammals and birds, but still consumed flesh from fishes. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.