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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Investigation of Europe's largest reptile fair

Turtles for sale packed into small containersWildlife dealers from all over Europe gathered to sell mostly wild-caught reptiles at the Terraristika reptile fair in Hamm, Germany on the 15 March 2008.

In hot, crowded halls, our investigators witnessed stall upon stall of suffering animals in takeaway containers. Often these plastic tubs were so small that the animals inside them were barely able to move. On viewing footage from the event, Clifford Warwick, Consultant Biologist, gave us his opinion:

"Within only seconds of viewing the tape of the Hamm 2008 Pet Fair, captivity-stress-related behaviours in reptiles are plain to see. Similarly, cramped, poorly conceived, containers and a nearly complete lack of catering to even basic biological needs reveals the disturbing, bordering on moronic, ignorance of those displaying and selling these highly sensitive animals. The presence of venomous snakes at this pet fair is yet another example of a business that is dangerously out of control.

Conditions at pet fairs are notoriously dismal and, likewise, animal wellbeing is drawn downward by a spiral of abuse and stress. So poor is the animal welfare at pet fairs such as Hamm, that the UK Government, in its wisdom, has banned these events.

While this pet fair may have attained new heights of physical scale, it has again provided testimony of all that is rotten in the keeping of exotic pets."

(Clifford Warwick DipMedSci EurProBiol CBiol FRSH FRIPH FIBiol Consultant Biologist and Medical Scientist)

Most reptiles arrive in the UK via Germany (the largest importer of reptiles in the EU) and many dealers buy reptiles from this particular fair to sell at a profit back in the UK. Our joint investigation with the Animal Protection Agency involved gathering data on the types of species on sale as well as the standard of animal husbandry at the event.

A full report of the event will be available shortly.