'unnecessary suffering' | 

Co Antrim exotic pet shop boss facing 44 animal welfare charges to fight case

Giant tortoises, lizards and possums are among the animals mentioned in neglect charges against Jungle Pets owner Richard Potter

Jungle Pets owner Richard Potter

Aldabra giant tortoises are native to the Seychelles© Getty Images/iStockphoto

Christopher WoodhouseSunday Life

The owner of an exotic pet shop who is accused of neglecting lizards, tortoises, snakes and a series of other unusual pets is set to fight the case later this month.

Richard Potter faces a total of 44 charges relating to alleged breaches of animal welfare laws at the premises of his business, Jungle Pets.

All the alleged offences are said to have occurred between December 2019 and June 2020 at his shop on the Frosses Road in Cloughmills, Co Antrim.

Court documents have revealed the range of exotic animals to which he is accused of causing unnecessary suffering.

They include Aldabra giant tortoises, which are native to the Seychelles and are among the largest and longest living animals on the planet, and yellow-foot tortoises from South America.

Others allegedly affected include a Gambian pouch rat, which hails from sub-Saharan Africa and is also one of the largest of its species.

Aldabra giant tortoises are native to the Seychelles© Getty Images/iStockphoto

Potter is further accused of neglecting a male and female sugar glider, a type of possum from eastern Australia which is named for its preference for sugary foods and can fly through the air up to 200 feet.

He is also alleged to have caused suffering to a snapper turtle, a native of North America, and a softshell turtle, which is considered a delicacy in parts of China and Japan.

The remainder of the animals in the case include unspecified lizards, fish, mice, chinchillas, macaws, budgerigars and cockatiels.

Potter also faces 15 charges in relation to the operation of his business, including not checking on the animals twice a day and not keeping them in enclosures that ensure their health and wellbeing.

He is also accused of unlawful possession of two veterinary medical products, namely the antibiotic Baytril and anti-inflammatory Loxicom.

The case against the 39-year-old was mentioned at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Friday where it was adjourned for a contest hearing next month.

WE attempted to contact Potter for comment on the case but received no response. Jungle Pets is still in operation while the court case is ongoing and has recently advertised more exotic species on its social media, including a yellow chameleon and an African grey parrot.

The business also posted a happy birthday message on its Facebook page last month for an Aldabra tortoise called Jonathan, which is the oldest living example of its kind at 190 years old.

Jungle Pets proclaims itself as “Northern Ireland and Ireland’s No1 exotic pet superstore; 25 years’ experience; worldwide imports supplying the northern parts of Co Antrim and Derry/Donegal”.

Its Facebook page also states: “Our shop has over 70 animals, from alligators, crocodiles, monkeys, raccoons, large pythons and more.”

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