Exotic-Animal Markets: A Breeding Ground for Disease

Posted by on May 2, 2012 | Permalink

Lizard in cageAn investigation into three major European exotic-animal markets – including the International Herpetological Society show in the UK – has found evidence of uninformed vendors and veterinary authorities, a serious potential to spread disease to human visitors and insufficient care given to endangered species. The report, which also investigated animal markets in Germany and Spain, was commissioned by PETA Germany and the Animal Protection Association and conducted by an international team of reptile experts consisting of Phillip C Arena, Catrina Steedman and Clifford Warwick.

The experts noted that many vendors and veterinary authorities responsible for monitoring the events had no special training in handling exotic animals. As a result, many vendors were irresponsibly in constant contact with different reptiles – who carry numerous pathogens, such as salmonella. The vendors were likely to spread these pathogens on surfaces, including tables and boxes, or even through a simple handshake. Last year, PETA Germany found multiple types of salmonella on different objects inside the Terraristika market in Hamm.

The investigators also found that many of the animals were suffering from stress caused by improper habitats – which lacked the thermal gradation reptiles need for proper health – as well as by long transport times and the crowded market atmosphere. Some of these animals were threatened and even critically endangered species, and two of the markets even offered Aldabra giant tortoises for sale as private “pets.” These tortoises can reach weights of well over 200 kilograms and live for more than 200 years, easily outliving any owner and growing too strong for any attempts at restraint.

The report confirms what animal rights organisations have said for years – exotic-animal markets are cruel to animals and pose a serious health risk to human visitors. From spreading salmonella to peddling critically endangered species, these markets fly in the face of everything that we know about animal welfare and should be shut down.

Exotic animals don’t belong in the UK, please don’t patronise any exotic animal markets.