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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 19, 2003 at 07:59:04:
THE CITIZEN (Gloucester, UK) 17 April 03 Protest Over Reptile Display
Animal rights activists have hit out at a reptile exhibition due to be held in Gloucester.
Animal Aid claims the Reptile Zoo, at Gloucester Docks, will harm the welfare of the alligators, snakes and lizards which will be on show. It also says the exhibition will pose a "significant health and safety risk to the public" and urged county residents, especially families and the elderly not to visit it. Organisers of the zoo, which will be open for six days from today at the Reynolds Double Warehouse, say they are considering making it a permanent fixture.
Animal Aid spokeswoman Elaine Toland, said: "No matter what the organisers' grandiose promises are about the educational value of the exhibition, confining reptiles for display purposes gives the false impression that it is acceptable to keep wild animals in captivity.
"If a proposal for a permanent zoo were to be submitted, we would provide enough evidence to show that the zoo would cause stress to the animals. The zoo would be promoting a false and damaging educational message, impacting negatively on species' conservation and would be jeopardising public health."
Animal Aid claims it is impossible to make the venue safe because reptiles pose the risk of transmitting salmonella.
But zoo spokeswoman Claire Pitt said: "You are 2,500 times more likely to get salmonella from chickens and eggs than reptiles.
"Animal Aid is known to us and we thought we may get a few problems from them. They like to have a say on things and that is fair enough but I totally disagree with what they are saying and there are plenty of microbiologists who would back me up.
"We feel the exhibition helps to raise awareness that many species of reptiles face extinction and we need to do all we can to help conserve them."
Gloucester Docks marketing manager Alison Shepherd said the Regional Development Agency, which has given the six-day exhibition the go-ahead, did not feel the public's safety would be in jeopardy.
She said it had all the necessary licences and health and safety procedures in place.