Ashford, Kent’s Reptile and Amphibian Market Bounced Out, Now in Hiding

Animal welfare groups have expressed their satisfaction upon learning that a planned reptile and amphibian market, which was scheduled to take place this Saturday, July 13th, at Leigh Academy Rainham school in Gillingham, has been cancelled. The decision was made by Vivify Venues, a school lettings provider, after receiving evidence that the event was likely to involve criminal activity. The swift action taken by Medway Council to investigate the issue was also commended.

However, organizers have announced that the market will now take place at an undisclosed venue in Ashford, Kent. This has raised concerns among animal welfare groups as the trade in pet animals over market stalls is illegal due to the inability to ensure the welfare of the animals in such temporary and makeshift environments. Reptiles and amphibians are commonly displayed and sold in small, plastic takeaway tubs at these markets, without proper consideration for their basic needs such as space, food, and water, as well as controlled temperature and lighting.

The animal groups are appealing for any information that could help in locating the underground market, which is being organized by the ARC (Amphibian and Reptile Club), a group founded and run by animal dealers. They caution venues to be aware that these markets are often falsely advertised as “breeders’ meetings,” “shows,” or “expos” in order to appear legitimate.

Elaine Toland, Director of the Animal Protection Agency, stated, “We’re grateful to Vivify Venues for taking swift action to uphold the law. We are hoping to trace the new venue in time to alert the authorities and prevent any further criminal activities. Our undercover investigators have caught illegal animal dealers at every single reptile market they have filmed over the years. These traders cause great suffering to sensitive and vulnerable wild animals.”

Dr. Charlotte Regan, Wildlife Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection, added, “Reptiles and amphibians are sentient animals with complex welfare needs, not commodities to be exploited by the pet trade. These markets are outdated events that have no place in our society.”

Laura Walton, Campaigns Manager for Freedom for Animals, also expressed her support for the decision, stating, “The suffering caused to animals as a result of being transported in tiny plastic tubs, and put on display for hours on end at these events, often without any food or water, is an utter disgrace; and why the trading of animals at markets was rightly banned. So we welcome the news that Vivify Venues have cancelled this exploitative event, and applaud their proactive response to prevent animal suffering. These profit-driven markets must cease to exist, and the rights and wellbeing of all animals better protected.”

Animal welfare groups are currently working together to lobby for improved guidance from Defra to aid in effective enforcement by local authorities. A recently published scientific study on reptile markets has highlighted the need for robustly enforcing the ban on these events due to the serious animal welfare issues and potential threats to public health.

Those with information about the location of the event in Ashford are urged to contact the Animal Protection Agency at

For more information, please contact Elaine Toland at 01273 674253 or 07986 535024 (out of hours). Images and footage of reptile and amphibian markets are available upon request.

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