Animal Aid


Posted 5 February 2002
Parrots in cage. Copyright Environmental Investigation Agency

The Focus store group has announced to Animal Aid that it is to cease the sale of all birds and small mammals. Animals are sold in more than 70 of the company's 400-plus outlets.

The development, announced in a letter to the campaign group from Focus chief executive Barry Norris, follows last week's publication of an Animal Aid undercover investigation into the company's sale of exotic birds.

Despite public statements claiming all its birds are captive bred, the Animal Aid report, called From Rainforest To Retail, produced evidence indicating that many of them were captured in the wild. Authoritative surveys have shown that, for every wild-caught bird who arrives alive in a pet shop, another three die during catching and transportation. The Animal Aid report, which does not allege that Focus knowingly sold wild-caught birds, examined the activities of its sole bird supplier, Safari Select. Owner Phil Dobinson has several convictions for cruelty and for owning and selling endangered species. He was the subject of a 1992 Roger Cook television investigation.

Animal Aid began its Focus campaign in February 2000, originally concentrating on the company's sale of reptiles. A substantial and growing number of reptile biologists and behaviourists are of the view that reptiles are impossible to care for properly in captivity. Most die prematurely.

Following hundreds of demonstrations at the company's stores around the country, Focus reptile sales ended in October 2000.

In a letter this week to Focus' chief executive, Animal Aid has stated:

"We commend and thank the Focus board for taking what is a practical as well as a moral decision. Our campaign began in February 2000, with the object of persuading your company to abandon the sale of ALL animals. We originally concentrated on reptiles - and then on birds. We must tell you that our concerns extend to the sale of fish, given that they too are sentient creatures. Whether wild caught or farmed in immense factory units overseas, there is a dark side to this trade that most people have yet to appreciate. We urge you to reconsider your decision to persist with the sale of fish. Our campaign will continue until Focus cease the sale of all animals."

From Rainforest To Retail can be viewed or downloaded here.

Notes to Editors

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

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