Mayor wants to call end to lizard shows at Dome

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Mayor wants to call end to lizard shows at Dome

Post by jlmp on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:00 am

The following article appeared in the Star newspaper, containing some very ill informed comments made by the mayor of Doncaster:

Mayor wants to call end to lizard shows at Dome

MAYOR Peter Davies says he was behind failed moves to pull the plug on a reptile show at the Doncaster Dome.

The International Herpetological Society went to the High Court to force bosses at the Doncaster Council-owned venue to allow it to go ahead with the event.

Days before the show organisers were told their planned event would be cancelled if they could not guarantee no animals would be sold.

Mr Davies today said the move to stop the event had been his idea – and was not down to pressure from animal rights campaigners.

He said: “I’m not greatly entertained by these sort of animals being kept as pets.

“They should be wild, and if they’re not wild they should be kept in reputable zoos.

“No-one leans on me and I am quite capable of making decisions based on common sense. This was one based on animal welfare.

“A lot of places have stopped this sort of thing but we are still entertaining it and I want to see an end to it.”

But the Doncaster show had the support of groups involved with keeping reptiles.

Chris Newman, the chairman of the Federation of British Herpetologists, said there had been campaigns running against such shows for several years.

He said he wanted the Government to bring in a licensing system to sort out any question marks over the suitability of such events.

He said: “Until about 1996 no-one raised any issues – then animal rights campaigners started asking if it was right that people buy and sell at these events.”

He said he did not see the Dome as any different to a pet show in its suitability as a place to buy and sell animals.

Show organiser for the IHS, Richard Brooke, said there were vets at the venue to make sure the animals’ welfare was protected during the event – which did go ahead at the weekend, attracting more than 2,500 visitors.
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Re: Mayor wants to call end to lizard shows at Dome

Post by jlmp on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:03 am

Copy of email that I sent to the editor of the Star newspaper in response to above article:

There have been some very ill informed comments made by the Mayor of Doncaster in the above article, which I would like to address here.

He has suggested that reptile pets, such as those being sold at the IHS show at Doncaster Leisure Drome, “should be in the wild”. In actual fact, these animals have been bred in captivity, specifically as pets. The genetics of many of these animals, i.e. colour mutations, mean that they would be unable to survive in the wild as their colouration would make the highly visible to predators. Whilst some colour mutations do occur naturally among wild populations, these animals would typically not survive into adulthood.

Would Mayor Davies be of the opinion that all pet hamsters should be in the wild? Hamsters are common place in the pet industry, and a very popular childrens pet. The most common pet hamster, the golden or Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), was first scientifically described in 1839 although they were not successfully bred in captivity until 1930. The golden hamsters that are being kept as pets today are originally descended from hamsters that were captured in Syria by zoologist Isreal Aharoni. However, few people would hold the belief that all pet hamsters should be in the wild, nor would they contest the keeping of them in cages by responsible owners as pets!

Mr. Davies has also stated that if these animals are not in the wild, “then they should be kept in reputable zoos”. Many private keepers have actually had more success than ‘reputable zoos’ with the captive breeding of certain species. The reptile industry as a whole is concerned with conservation of these animals and their native habitats, and actively encourages captive breeding programmes, especially of endangered species.

The crested gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus), which was first described in 1866, was long believed to be extinct until the species was rediscovered in 1994. This species is now one of the most widely kept and bred gecko species in the world and thrives in captivity.

Mr. Davies says that his decision to oppose the show from going ahead was “based on animal welfare”. However, there were vets present at the show to ensure that the highest standards of animal welfare were strictly adhered to at all times. Tim Wass MBE (former Chief Inspector of the RSPCA) was commissioned to conduct an independent animal welfare inspection, and he was ‘impressed’ with the standard of welfare at the show and found no issues at all. If there was anything untoward about this event, the High Court would not have granted an injuction in favour of the organisers allowing it to go ahead in its original format.

Mr Davies definitely seems to be very ill informed about this event and about the hobby in general.


Who is Mayor Peter Davies and what is his background?

Mr. Davies was a member of the Labour Party until 1973, whenever he left and joined the Conservative Party where he remained until 1993. He then joined the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), before finally joining the English Democrats and being elected as Mayor.

In September 2009, he spoke of his admiration for the “ordered way of life under the Taliban”. He also insists that he is “not conned by global warming” and has described climate change as “a scam”. During interviews on BBC Radio Sheffield and Look North, following his election as mayor, interviewers questioned him about the legality of many of his manifesto promises.

On 22nd February 2010, a vote of no confidence was carried against him, and during a meeting of the full council of Doncaster, he and his Cabinet were strongly criticised for ‘lack of political leadership’. In October 2010, Mr. Davies was disciplined by the council for breaching the code of conduct and his budget for 2010-2011 was slammed as being ‘irresponsible’. However, Davies has refused to resign despite continued criticism of his ‘outrageous’ policies.

Despite pledging to ‘save money’, ‘make use of Doncaster’s assets including the arts and leisure venues and the racecourse’ and ‘strive for city status’ to make Doncaster ‘one of the most successful places in Britain’, he wishes to see the end of a regular event that brings in revenue for local businesses. This last show attracted more than 2,500 visitors to Doncaster, many of whom stayed in local hotels, used local transport, spent money in local cafes/bars/restaurants etc. Can local businesses really afford to lose this regular income in our present financial climate?

Mr Davies has stated that “the move to stop the event had been his idea – and was not down to pressures from animal rights campaigners”. If this was indeed his own decision, then I can only assume that he agrees with, and has been influenced by, the propaganda that is being spewed out by these extremist organisations that wish to see an end to the pet industry as a whole.

However, whilst he seems to agree with these organisations on this particular issue, he openly advocates horse racing, which is another activity that these groups actively oppose. I would suggest that Mr Davies seems to be as confused with his ideas on animal welfare as he seems to have been with his political allegiances over the years and I would recommend that he looks at our hobby in greater detail before making such ill informed public statements in the future !!
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Re: Mayor wants to call end to lizard shows at Dome

Post by jlmp on Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:05 am

Copy of an email that I sent to the mayor:

Dear Mayor Davies

I am writing to you with regard to the article "Mayor wants to call end to lizard shows at Dome" that appeared in the Star on Wednesday 27th June, and I would like to address some of the points you made in it.

You suggested that reptile pets, such as those being sold at the IHS show at Doncaster Leisure Dome, “should be in the wild”. In actual fact, these animals have been bred in captivity, specifically as pets. The genetics of many of these animals, i.e. colour mutations, mean that they would be unable to survive in the wild as their colouration would make them highly visible to predators. Whilst some colour mutations do occur naturally among wild populations, these animals would typically not survive into adulthood.

Would you be of the opinion that all pet hamsters should be in the wild? Hamsters are common place in the pet industry, and a very popular childrens pet. The most common pet hamster, the golden or Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), was first scientifically described in 1839 although they were not successfully bred in captivity until 1930. The golden hamsters that are being kept as pets today are originally descended from hamsters that were captured in Syria by zoologist Isreal Aharoni. However, few people would hold the belief that all pet hamsters should be in the wild, nor would they contest the keeping of them in cages by responsible owners as pets!

You also stated that if these animals are not in the wild, “then they should be kept in reputable zoos”. Many private keepers have actually had more success than ‘reputable zoos’ with the captive breeding of certain species. The reptile industry as a whole is concerned with conservation of these animals and their native habitats, and actively encourages captive breeding programmes, especially of endangered species.

The crested gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus), which was first described in 1866, was long believed to be extinct until the species was rediscovered in 1994. This species is now one of the most widely kept and bred gecko species in the world and thrives in captivity.

You said that your decision to oppose the show from going ahead was “based on animal welfare”. However, there were vets present at the show to ensure that the highest standards of animal welfare were strictly adhered to at all times. Tim Wass MBE (former Chief Inspector of the RSPCA) was commissioned to conduct an independent animal welfare inspection, and he was ‘impressed’ with the high standard of welfare at the show and found no issues at all. If there was anything untoward about this event, the High Court would not have granted an injuction in favour of the organisers allowing it to go ahead in its original format.

You have pledged to ‘save money’, ‘make use of Doncaster’s assets including the arts and leisure venues and the racecourse’ and ‘strive for city status’ to make Doncaster ‘one of the most successful places in Britain’. This last show attracted more than 2,500 visitors to Doncaster, many of whom stayed in local hotels, used local transport or purchased fuel from local fuel stations, spent money in local cafes/bars/restaurants etc. Would you really wish to take this revenue away from local businesses and could they really afford to lose this regular income in our present financial climate?

You stated that “the move to stop the event had been your idea – and was not down to pressures from animal rights campaigners”. Are you aware that officials at Doncaster Council, DCLT and organisers at the IHS have received death threats and threats of violence from animal rights activists opposing such reptile events? If this was indeed your own decision, then may I ask where you have received your information from? There is widespread propeganda from animal rights groups stating their opposition to reptile keeping. Is it possible perhaps, that some of your information may have originated from such sources? Also, are you aware of the recent adjudication of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) with regard to certain campaign literature published by Lush in conjunction with the Animal Protection Agency (APA)? The ASA stated that the campaign literature should not be presented in current form again. I have included the actual ASA report as an attachment for your information.

These extremist animal rights groups are against the 'exploitation of animals by humans' as a whole, including the raising of farm animals for food, sports such as horse racing and show jumping, and in deed pet ownership as a whole. Animal Aid, for example, is happy to publicly state their opposition to pet keeping, with statements such as "We don't agree with pet keeping", "Pets aren't a good idea" and "They become slaves to their owners". If these organisations manage to acheive their objective in having shows like this banned, then where do you think they will turn next... the sale of animals from pet shops... horse racing??? Who knows what aspect of their overall agenda they will focus their efforts on next.

I would suggest that you research this issue, and our hobby, thoroughly. There is a lot of useful information available from organisations such as the International Herpetological Society (IHS), the Federation of British Herpetologists (FBH), the British Society of Herpetology (BHS) etc, and perhaps it would be prudent for you to read documents such as the ASA adjudication report (attached to this email) and any report written by Tim Wass MBE relating to his independant inspection of the event. I also believe that it would be a beneficial and worthwhile experience for you to attend the next IHS show, which is to be held at Doncaster Leisure Dome in September.

I will look forward with great interest to hearing from you as soon as conveniently possible in connection with this matter.
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