Exotic Animal Kids’ Entertainment Parties Facing New Licensing Laws In The UK

With nearly 200 mobile zoos in the UK, it seems that those who run “exotic animal” parties for kids will now need an official license before they can work.

This was down to the fact that animal protection society the RSPCA had picked up on animals being mistreated and kept in inappropriate living conditions. They told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire television show that this included meerkats and even raccoons.

The new changes will come under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 in England, though there isn’t a specific time frame just yet. According to the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) “anyone in the business of providing an animal for exhibit” must have legal documents and permission from their local authority, reported the BBC.

Other countries, including Wales and Scotland, have also been working towards the new law, to help protect the safety of the animals that are involved in entertainment parties for children.

A big concern the RSPCA had was how the animals were involved, especially meerkats, raccoons and raccoon dogs. Ros Clubb of the RSPCA expressed worry that their needs were not being adhered to, such as being kept in groups and not handled too much. 

She was also worried that the animals would be in unsafe spaces, explaining that “animals being stacked up in inappropriate boxes and enclosures, and taken to places for display and for handing round again and again potentially in the same day” was stressful.

The charity noted that the animals could be a threat towards the children too if bitten, or even scratched.

According to Scott Gavin, owner Party Central Entertainments, who was featured on the program: “It’s OK to keep a rabbit in a hutch, but it’s not OK to have a raccoon. You can have a hamster, but not a hedgehog.”

The animal enthusiast owns over 100 animals and believes it helps educate young children, however, only in the right circumstances.

He did express that the animals’ environment had to be “set properly” and that there couldn’t be any “crowding or noise.” 

“If [the children] are causing stress for the animals, the animals go home.”

Earlier this year, a British man was given an 18-month jail sentence and a 10-year ban on keeping animals. This was because the 27-year-old forklift driver had created a mini zoo in his one-bedroom home. It included snakes, scorpions, and lizards, which were all suffering from lack of proper care.

Alarmingly, he was charging £80 an hour to show off some of the animals at children’s parties.

Parents are now being advised by the RSPCA to be careful when booking animal entertainment for children.

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