School for scandal: Illegal wild animal dealing at Shenfield High School
Shenfield High School has been publicly condemned for its part in facilitating an underground reptile market that took place on Sunday 27 September 2009, at which illegal trading of wild animals took place. The Animal Protection Agency, with support from International Animal Rescue, is now calling for an inquiry, and will be carrying out their own investigation, into the school's role in keeping the event hidden from the authorities.
The school originally announced that it had disallowed the event. A hunt then began for the new venue after organisers had threatened that their event would go underground. Public appeals for information were made and the police, as well as officers of several councils across Essex, spent considerable time searching through their contacts to track down the event. Some councils even made out-of-hours provisions in case the event turned up in their areas. Early on Friday afternoon, the Animal Protection Agency received a tip-off from a reptile keeper that the event would be taking place at the original venue, Shenfield High School. The school, however, refused to confirm or deny that the event was taking place there and advised that an announcement would be made after 6pm (ie. after council hours).
On Friday afternoon, Brentwood Borough Council were not aware that the event would be taking place at the school but did warn that the school could face prosecution if illegal trading took place.
Said Animal Protection Agency spokesperson, Elaine Toland:
"The school was made fully aware of the legal situation regarding reptile markets and also the health risks involved in staging such an event. Our team of investigators attended the market where countless criminal transactions were observed and recorded. The school, which is complicit in those crimes, may now be subject to prosecution. It's a scandal that time and public resources were wasted in tracking down this event when Shenfield High School could have provided information to the authorities that would have been helpful. If the school was confident that this was a legitimate event, then why all the secrecy?"
Conditions at this event were typical of all reptile markets and would have caused tremendous stress to the animals that were traded. Under current legislation, animals are protected from this type of mistreatment and numerous animal welfare organisations are working hard to ensure that this form of abuse is stamped out. Experts in public health warn that venues at which reptile markets have taken place may be contaminated for up to three months afterwards.
The Animal Protection Agency is an organisation focused on ceasing the trade in wild animals as pets. They work closely with International Animal Rescue which is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of suffering animals all over the world.
For more background information or for pictures, please contact Elaine Toland on 01273 674253.