Doncaster to end ‘UK’s largest reptile market’ at town’s racecourse after animal rights activist campaign

Doncaster will soon no longer host one of Europe’s biggest reptile markets as animal rights activists called it a ‘historic breakthrough’ in a bid to end ‘restrictive, captive conditions’.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:17 pm

The Animal Protection Agency (APA) said Doncaster Council will not renew the contract with the International Herpetological Society (IHS) and no more events at the town’s racecourse will take place after June 19.

But the organisers said the decision was down to ‘corporate bullying’ by ‘animal rights extremists’ in pressuring the council to make its decision.

The APA claims thousands of sensitive wild animals at events like these have been treated like ‘inanimate commodities’ – displayed and sold in small, plastic takeaway tubs.

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Snakes being sold in plastic containers at a recent event. Picture: APA

The group said it’s worked for several years with councils to clamp down on reptile markets and the Doncaster meet is said to be the last in the UK.

Coun David Shaw, chair of Doncaster Council’s licensing committee, said: “I’m grateful for the work put in by the Animal Protection Agency over many years, which has brought us to this current position.

“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.”

Trading in pet animals at market stalls was outlawed almost forty years ago on the grounds that ‘animal welfare cannot be ensured in temporary and makeshift environments’, the APA said.

APA Director, Elaine Toland added: “We are delighted to see this event coming to an end.

“No animal deserves such maltreatment, and we are now closer than ever to completely eradicating wild animal markets in the UK.”

But Richard Brook, I.H.S. event organiser, said: “Our contracts with Doncaster Racecourse expire with the June show this year, and the racecourse has been instructed – we believe by the mayor of Doncaster Council – not to accept further bookings from the International Herpetological society.

“This is due to a campaign of harassment of the racecourse and Doncaster Council by Animal Rights activists.

“Whilst it saddens the International Herpetological Society to be leaving Doncaster after nearly two decades, this is purely due to corporate bullying by Animal Rights extremists.”