MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow authorities have shut down a “crocodile farm” at an exhibition centre in the city on suspicion the reptiles could have been smuggled into Russia, the city’s environmental department said Monday.
The show at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, which opened last month, displayed four kinds of crocodile, as well as pythons, anacondas, iguanas, monitor lizards, and, somewhat incongruously, fennec foxes from the Sahara, according to the exhibition centre’s website.
The “farm’s” reptiles were intended purely for public display, and not production of meat or leather belts.
However, the show’s owner failed to provide paperwork confirming that the animals on display were obtained in accordance with the Control of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) rules governing wildlife trafficking, the City Hall’s environmental department said in a press statement Monday.
The list of seized animals comprises 134 crocodiles, as well as 10 snakes, two monitor lizards and an iguana, the department said, but made no mention of fennec foxes.
City officials chose not to remove the reptiles from their cages, a spokeswoman for the exhibit said, Metro newspaper reported.
She denied the animals had been illegally trafficked, blaming the incident on a paperwork mix-up and said access to the animals will soon be restored for Moscow’s reptile-loving public.
The Crocodile Farm may soon face some stiff competition. According to Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, a marine public aquarium is due to open at the All-Russia Exhibition Center in 2014, becoming only the fifth place in the world to host killer whales.