Reptile market stopped in its tracks at Kempton Park Racecourse

News provided by Animal Protection Agency Foundation on Tuesday 10th May 2022

An advertised event at which thousands of reptiles and amphibians would have been sold at Kempton Park Racecourse on Sunday 14 August 2022 has been rejected due to risks of illegal animal selling. Spelthorne Borough Council has confirmed that the Racecourse had taken the responsible decision not to proceed with the event. This outcome was reached after the Council advised the venue of the law prohibiting the trade of pets from market stalls. The Animal Protection Agency, World Animal Protection and Freedom for Animals, which have campaigned for an end to reptile markets over the years, are greatly relieved that this reptile market will not go ahead and have commended Spelthorne Council and the Racecourse for acting decisively.

The event poster misleadingly described the event as a ‘breeders meeting’ and did not convey that large-scale animal selling would take place. The above-named animal protection groups, which have monitored reptile markets around the country, were able to advise the Council and the Racecourse of the true nature of the planned event.

An increasing number of venues are turning away reptile markets due to their well-documented problems involving animal welfare and illegal selling, as well as the public outcry they generate. In the last few weeks, Doncaster Council announced that Doncaster Racecourse would no longer host a large reptile market after a final event on 19 June 2022, which they are contractually obliged to allow. Following that, Newcastle City Council confirmed that Newcastle Racecourse had also turned away reptile market organisers after concerns had been expressed by the Council to the venue management.

Conditions at reptile markets are invariably poor, with animals typically confined to small, plastic, takeaway tubs, seriously compromising the animals’ welfare. The law prohibits commercial trade in pet animals from temporary and makeshift environments because of the suffering it causes to animals. Scientists have described the treatment of reptiles at markets as tantamount to animal abuse.

Says Elaine Toland, Director of the Animal Protection Agency:

“This planned event was not going to be a meeting, as advertised, but a large-scale wild animal market. Spelthorne Council was right to take such a proactive stance in offering sound legal advice to the Racecourse. Thanks to their action, a great deal of animal suffering has been prevented.

Says Dr Charlotte Regan, Campaigns Manager, World Animal Protection:

“Reptiles are wild animals with complex welfare needs, not commodities to be commercially exploited by the exotic pet trade. Although the event at Kempton Park Racecourse will thankfully no longer be going ahead, these inhumane reptile markets continue to pop up. Defra must end these markets once and for all – they are outdated events that should have no place in our society.”

Says Dr Andrew Kelly, Director, Freedom for Animals:

“Freedom for Animals congratulates Spelthorne Borough Council and Kempton Park Racecourse for acting decisively and taking the responsible action not to host this reptile market. There is sufficient scientific evidence that the welfare of animals displayed and sold at such markets cannot be protected. There is also ample evidence of illegal selling at previous markets. Wild or so-called exotic animals do not thrive in captivity and should not be kept as pets.

  • For more information, please contact Elaine Toland on 01273 674253 or out of hours on 07986 535024

Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of Animal Protection Agency Foundation, on Tuesday 10 May, 2022. For more information subscribe and follow

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