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Posted by W von Papinešu on September 23, 2002 at 20:47:23:
NORWICH EVENING NEWS (UK) 23 September 02 Reptile event big success (Alex Gore)
A reptile show at Hellesdon High School passed off peacefully despite a bid by animal rights activists to ban it.
Dozens of people turned up to find out about keeping snakes, lizards and geckos as pets at the annual Eastern Herpetological Society (EHS) show.
Some of the 100 varieties of reptile on display and for sale included cornsnakes, Albino geckos, fire-bellied toads, blue-tongued skinks, tortoises and a boa constrictor.
Colin Ware, chair of EHS, said the event was a huge success.
"We had the environmental health team here and the police and they both found no problems with the show," he said.
"We had talks and demonstrations from experts and the show is a great forum for people to come together and exchange knowledge on caring for reptiles. There was also a lot of interest from people who don't keep reptiles.
"Reptile keeping is one of the fastest growing areas of pet keeping. Most people start off keeping fish but then they want a bit more interaction with their pets and may choose a snake or a lizard."
Philip Barber, 13, a member of the Norwich-based EHS, closely inspected a baby Leopard Gecko ? the most commonly kept reptile in the UK.
"I have four geckos at home and we breed them," he said. "I like them because they are easy to keep, they are very colourful and have a good temperament."
Chris Newman, chairman of the Federation of British Herpetologists, said owning reptiles was becoming a popular hobby with more than a million housesholds in the UK having a reptile as a pet.
"A lot of people want to keep animals which are interesting and easy to keep. You don't have to take a snake out for a walk and they only need feeding once every few days.
"For people with busy lifestyles, reptiles are a great alternative to having a dog or a cat.
"It's good for members of the public to come along and have greater access to these reptiles. It's educational for children to discover snakes are not slimy or horrible to touch."
Mr Newman's son Lloyd, 10, gazed through the glass at a Californian Kingsnake (pic).
"I've got 50 snakes at home," he said. "They are fun to handle, they don't often bite and if they do, they don't bite hard."
Pressure group Animal Aid had claimed last week pupils and parents could contract salmonella poisoning from the event.
It said anyone at the fair could carry the bacteria around with them even if they had not touched any animals, but Broadland District Council and Norfolk County Council's health and safety departments gave it the all-clear.