We are delighted that British pub and hotel retailer, Marston’s, has cancelled a Valentine’s event featuring exotic animals at one of its pubs following a joint letter from OneKind and Born Free.

The Chain Runner pub in Livingston had planned to host a ‘Crazy Critters’ event on Valentine’s Day. An array of exotic animals were to be transported to, and displayed at, the pub, and people were even encouraged to head along and handle a meerkat.

Alongside Born Free, we sent a joint letter to the CEO of Marston’s, Andrew Andrea, to highlight the animal welfare concerns of such an event and to urge him to take action on behalf of the animals and cancel the event. We are very pleased that Marston’s listened to our concerns and did indeed cancel the event.

The welfare issue with captive exotic animals

Burmese python

The many wild species that are kept as exotic animals for entertainment purposes have widely varied and often complex and poorly understood needs. As a result, they are more prone to suffering when kept in captivity than domesticated animals. In captivity, they may suffer from deprivation of their social, dietary and environmental needs.

Social animals, such as meerkats, normally live in large colonies and can suffer when kept alone for their entire lives. On the other hand, reptiles are solitary animals that endure significant stress if kept with others of the same species.

Our report Scotland’s exotic pets: Why the internet trade in exotic pets in Scotland needs regulating explores the welfare issues of keeping exotic animals captive in detail.

The need for a ban on exhibiting wild animals

OneKind and Born Free have also sent a joint letter to the Scottish Government, calling for them to introduce legislation prohibiting the use of wild animals for exhibition or performance in Scotland.