Animal Aid


Posted 27 January 2002
Parrot in cage. Copyright Environmental Investigation Agency

Animal Aid is set to step up its campaign against the 400-strong DIY store chain, Focus. An undercover investigation by the national pressure group has obtained evidence from the company's sole supplier of birds indicating that - despite public claims by Focus to the contrary - some of the birds the store group sells are captured in the wild rather than captive-bred.

In more than 70 of its outlets, the DIY chain - formerly known as Focus Do It All - also stocks cold water and tropical fish, and small mammals such as rabbits, chinchillas and hamsters.

Animal Aid, whose campaigning throughout much of 2000 forced Focus to drop the sale of reptiles, set out to verify the company's claim that all caged birds for sale in its stores were captive-bred. As well as obtaining evidence from supplier Safari Select, the group commissioned consultant ornithologist and former head of investigations at the RSPB, Peter Robinson, to visit several of the company's stores. It is Peter Robinson's view that over three-quarters of the birds on sale were caught in the wild and that many of the species are classified by the UN monitoring body, CITES, as threatened. Animal Aid does not allege that Focus knows that wild-caught birds are being sold in its stores.

The Animal Aid findings, together with a graphic account of the suffering and exploitation inherent in the wild bird trade, are published this week in a new report called From Rainforest to Retail.

In 1992, Safari Select was the subject of a Roger Cook documentary. The programme claimed that the firm's owner, Phil Dobinson, had no less than 13 criminal convictions for selling birds without correct paperwork; and for cruelty to birds. The Cook investigation also claimed to have found evidence that endangered wild-caught birds were being falsely represented by Safari as captive-bred.

While Phil Dobinson denied the allegations, Animal Aid can confirm that he has at least seven convictions for animal cruelty and selling and owning endangered species.

Star of the Channel 4 programme Pet Rescue, Wendy Turner, has declared her support for the Animal Aid campaign. She says:

"It is outrageous to think that Focus are selling threatened bird species alongside power tools. This is a company that not so long ago was selling iguanas who can grow to six feet."

Throughout their campaign, Animal Aid has told Focus to STICK TO PAINT NOT PETS and cease the sale of all animals in its stores.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

"For every bird taken from the wild, it is likely that three birds will have died during the capture, confinement and transportation process. It is a thoroughly ruthless business associated with tremendous animal suffering. But if people in developed countries did not buy exotic birds, there would be no incentive to trap them. We are calling for Focus to act responsibly and stick to paint not pets."

From Rainforest To Retail can be viewed or downloaded here.

Notes to Editors

  • More information from Elaine Toland or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546. After hours 07949 039424.
  • Full range of undercover and wild bird trade photos available.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.

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