Animal Aid

BIRD AND REPTILE FAIRS - Help the crackdown

Posted 1 March 2003

Paulie, a blue-crowned conure, began his life in a large flock in South America. From there he was captured and transported thousands of miles to end up on a stall at the Stafford Bird Show in October. He was then bought as a 'test-purchase' by a bird protection group called Birds First.

Paulie ended up in good hands. He was taken on by Greg Glendell, a parrot behaviourist working for Birds First. But a specialist bird vet who examined him found that he had a series of crop, gut and kidney infections and was severely dehydrated. He had also been exposed to psittacosis before being purchased. Despite lots of loving attention and the best veterinary care available, he got to a stage where he was too weak to hold up his head. So Paulie was put to sleep on 14 December 2002.

He was just one of thousands of wild-caught birds offered for sale at the show.

As we go to press, Stafford Borough Council is still undecided as to whether to prosecute the dealer who sold Paulie. The trader in question is one of the UK's biggest dealers and the sale was illegal according to the Pet Animals Act 1951 (amended 1983). The Trading Standards Department has also been contacted.

The biggest event of the bird traders' calendar took place on 30 Nov/1 Dec at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, illegally licensed by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. An investigator from the Captive Animals' Protection Society went along to monitor the event with Peter Robinson, formerly Head of Investigations at the RSPB.

Peter Robinson estimated that there were up to 70,000 birds for sale on that day. They were overcrowded and no doubt stressed. About a quarter of the trade stands displayed species that are native to Britain. He estimated that at least 75% of the birds on sale had been captured in the wild.

Reptile fairs

Unlike the bird fairs, recent reptile fairs have proved to be financially disastrous. Although reptile dealers make more of an effort than bird dealers to disguise the true nature of their 'shows', it is not difficult to find clear evidence of commercial trading. To circumvent the law they pose as private individuals selling their surplus pets - but several traders have handed us their business cards and one trader even admitted supplying pet shops.

  • Letter writing has worked very well in stopping various one-day fairs and has saved thousands of animals. Please stress that most of the birds and reptiles have been taken from their home in the wild. Please write to the following councils and ask them to ensure that no more illegal sales take place in their area.

    Mr S Lawson, Principal Environmental Health Officer, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, PO Box 19, Council House, Solihull, B91 3QT.

    Peter Randall, Principal Environmental Health Officer, Basildon District Council, St Martin's Square, Basildon SS14 1DL.

    Sue Blazdell, Environmental Health Manager, City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester SO23 9LG.

    Steve Webster, Head of Environmental Health Services, Redditch Borough Council, The Town Hall, Alcester Street, Redditch B98 8AH.

    Andy Jarvis, Head of Environmental Health Services, Broadland District Council, Thorpe Lodge, Norwich NR7 0DU.

  • Find out more - read our wild bird trade factfile and see the reptile campaign index.

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