Last year, the coronavirus crisis closed the doors on one of the UK’s last remaining wildlife markets, held four times a year at Doncaster Racecourse, where thousands of snakes, lizards, and tortoises are displayed for sale. It attracts hundreds of reptile breeders and thousands of customers. With lockdown restrictions lifting, organisers are planning their next event.
Here are 6 reasons why wild animal lovers should help us stop these cruel reptile shows:
1. Wild animals suffer at these events
At Doncaster reptile show, thousands of captive bred wild animals are trapped for hours in cramped, stressful conditions that cause immense suffering. Snakes lie crammed into tiny tubs with no water or shelter. Lizards scrabble in takeaway boxes under bright lights. Tortoises claw at glass walls.
Exotic pets are wild animals, belonging to a species that does not have a history of domestication (like dogs or cats). This means they have not undergone genetic changes in either appearance or behaviour that enables them to adapt readily to ‘non-wild’ captive conditions. Although some wild animals can be ‘tamed’ they cannot be considered domesticated animals.
It’s time to stop these cruel wildlife markets.
Snakes displayed in boxes at the Doncaster reptile show in 2019
2. Keeping wild animals as pets is wrong
Last year, our Ball python report, Suffering in Silence, revealed the tragic suffering experienced by Ball pythons at every step of the trade chain. Events like the Doncaster reptile show promote reptile keeping and breeding, despite the harm caused by the exotic pet trade.
In most parts of the UK, inhumane wildlife markets like these no longer exist – and that’s how it ought to be. Doncaster reptile show is an outdated event that has no place in our society.
3. Wild animals are not products
Ball pythons sold like colourful toys are prodded, picked up and held. But they’re shy, sensitive wild animals, not products. These complex creatures feel fear and pain.
As a nation of animal lovers, we can’t allow this to continue. It’s time to stop Doncaster’s reptile markets before more creatures suffer.
4. So-called ‘designer’ snakes can suffer from health problems
Ball pythons are among the most popular exotic pets in the UK and like many reptiles, are selectively bred to create ‘colour morphs’, with striking colours and patterns. But these designer snakes can suffer horrifically from genetic abnormalities causing spine and skull deformities, neurological problems and other genetic disorders. Is this really the relationship we want with wild animals?
5. Ball pythons face a lifetime of misery in the exotic pet trade
Once sold, they are destined for a lifetime of misery. No captive environment can ever fully meet their complex needs, no matter how much their owners care for them. Which is why reptiles should never be pets.
6. Wild animals belong in the wild
The reptiles sold at Doncaster Racecourse are bred in captivity, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t wild animals. They have the same natural traits and needs as their counterparts living in their natural habitat.
Wild animals should be in the wild, where they belong.
We believe that credible, sound science must be the backbone of our efforts to move people to act for to improve the lives of millions of animals around the world. Below are links to many of the peer-reviewed research that underpins our work to end the trade in ball pythons as pets: