AN ANIMAL rights group claims commercial traders were illegally selling reptiles at a show in Kidderminster attended by hundreds of people.

Organisers of the West Midland Reptile Expo, held at Wyre Forest Glades Leisure Centre, said, however, no laws were broken at the event on Sunday.

Wyre Forest District Council had written to the organisers, telling them commercial breeders were not permitted to sell animals there, after the Animal Protection Agency alerted the authority.

Investigators from the agency had seen “large-scale animal suffering” at the show and were “offered animals that would require highly specialised care”, said agency spokesman, Elaine Toland.

Zak Showell, show organiser, explained some sales of animals had taken place between hobbyist breeders, who were members of West Midland Reptile Society.

He added the agency was “more than welcome” to show him any evidence it claimed to have of illegal sales at the show.

Ms Toland said all trading should have been prohibited “under any circumstances”, however, and added she would take up the issue with the district council.

Marcus Hart, cabinet member for community and partnership services, said the council had “no right” to ban all trading at the show as the Pet Animals Act 1951 only prohibited commercial sales in public places, not trades between hobbyists.

He went on: “There is a grey area about what constitutes a hobbyist but that is not for the district council to oversee.”

Mr Hart said the Animal Protection Agency should submit any evidence of illegal sales to the council’s legal department, adding: “We do not condone the unlawful sale and suffering of animals.”

Queues stretched down Bromsgrove Street on Sunday, as people waited to enter the event, which Mr Showell called an “absolutely amazing success”.

He said the majority of people there were families and animal lovers who wanted to view the exhibitions.

Last week, Ms Toland said she feared the show would turn into a “wildlife jumble sale”, with animals displayed in plastic containers.

After the event, she added: “Event organisers had vowed that no commercial sales would take place and that if any of the dealers were found to be selling animals they would be asked to leave.

“However, on the day, the dealers were allowed to continue with their brisk sales of wild animals.”