Doncaster racecourse final reptile market

Final reptile market at Doncaster Racecourse



Sunday June 19th is set to be the last reptile market held at Doncaster Racecourse, marking the end of a two-year campaign by World Animal Protection UK.

This win wouldn’t have been possible without the many thousands of supporters who took action on behalf of the reptiles, amphibians and chelonians (turtles, terrapins, and tortoises) sold at these events, which have been held at Doncaster Racecourse for the past 20 years. 

The support this campaign has received is truly amazing.

In 2020, over 75,000 people signed a petition calling on Doncaster Racecourse to stop hosting the event and, in 2021,15,000 people directly emailed the Racecourse CEO.

Our most recent action in April saw nearly 5,000 people write to the Mayor of Doncaster and nearly 100 Doncaster residents email their local councillors asking Doncaster Council to take action to stop these reptile markets from taking place – all in less than 24 hours!

As a result, we were quickly contacted by Doncaster Council informing us that the Racecourse would not be renewing its contract with the organisers of the reptile market after the final event takes place in June. 

As well as demonstrating the strength of public opposition to these markets, we have also been able to create some really important national and regional media coverage, the most recent of which was the investigative report undertaken by Nada Fahoud, environmental editor at The Mirror. 

Nada went in person to the April 2022 reptile market to witness for herself the way in which the many different species of snakes, lizards and amphibians were being bought and sold in tiny plastic boxes, over makeshift market stalls, sometimes for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Media articles like this play a vital role in raising public awareness of the unpleasant realities of the exotic pet trade in the UK and prompt people to question whether events which exploit wild animals are really something we want happening in our local communities in this day and age.  

And it’s not just the welfare conditions of the reptile markets which are so problematic – animals kept in small, barren boxes with no access to water, shelter and sometimes not even enough room to fully extend their bodies – it is just one aspect of a much wider concern around the fundamental unsuitability of wild animals being kept as pets in domestic environments.  

Even though most of the animals sold at reptile markets like Doncaster are captive-bred rather than wild caught, these animals still have the same physiological, psychological and environmental welfare needs as their wild counterparts. Even with the right specialist equipment and the best intentions, these animals will inevitably suffer from the confines and inadequacies of a captive environment. 

While the end of the reptile market in Doncaster does not mean the end of all wildlife markets in the UK just yet, it is nonetheless a significant achievement. With your support, we will continue to work towards ending the exploitation of wild animals by the exotic pet trade and oppose wildlife markets taking place in the UK.

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