Minister must end exotic animal fairs, organizations say

Gekkos for sale Photo: World Animal Protection Nederland

Five animal welfare organizations have called on Agriculture Minister Henk Staghouwer to put an end to fairs where exotic animals are traded.

According to World Animal Protection, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), Stichting Spots, Stichting Aap and the Dierencoalitie, fairs jeopardize animal welfare and pose a risk to public health.

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, believed to have originated at an animal market in China’s Wuhan, scientists have warned that exotic animals can spread disease, especially if crowded together in one space, the organizations said.

They warned that no legislation is in place to ban the trade in animals such as lizards, pythons, alligators and macaws which takes place at “dozens of fairs” every year.

“We see snakes on top of each other and stressed lizards in plastic containers, all beautiful animals that belong in nature, not in a fast food tray at a Dutch fair,” said Sanne Kuijpers from World Animal Protection in Trouw.

Animals are constantly picked up and moved, she said, and their mouths are taped to prevent them from biting.

Former agriculture minister Carola Schouten opened a preliminary investigation into the fairs and potential risks in November last year, but that must speed up, the organizations said.

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