Minister must put stop to exotic animal fairs, say organisations

Gekkos at a fair Photo: World Animal Protection Nederland
Gekkos on sale  Photo: World Animal Protection Nederland

Five animal welfare organisations have called on agriculture minister Henk Staghouwer to put an end to fairs where exotic animals are traded.

According to World Animal Protection, International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), Stichting Spots, Stichting Aap and the Dierencoalitie, the fairs put the animals’ welfare at stake and pose a risk to public health.

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which is thought to have originated at an animal market in Wuhan in China, scientists have warned that exotic animals may spread disease, particularly if they are packed into one space, the organisations said.

They warned that no legislation is in place to prohibit the trade in animals such as lizards, pythons, alligators and aras which is taking place at ‘dozens of fairs’ each year.

‘We see snakes on top of each other, and stressed lizards in plastic containers, all beautiful animals which belong in the wild, not in a fast food tray at a Dutch fair,’ Sanne Kuijpers of World Animal Protection told Trouw .

The animals are constantly picked up and moved, she said, and their mouths taped to prevent them from biting.

Former agriculture minister Carola Schouten initiated a preliminary investigation into the fairs and potential risks in November last year but that needs to accelerate, the organisations said.

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