Animal Conservation

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

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

All of the alleged breaches are believed to have occurred between December 2019 and June 2020 at his Frosses Road store in Cloughmills, Co Antrim.

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

These include the Aldabra giant tortoises, which are native to the Seychelles and are among the largest and oldest animals on the planet, and the yellow-footed tortoises of South America.

Others are believed to have been affected, including a Gambian pocket rat, which is native to sub-Saharan Africa and is also one of the largest of its kind.

Potter is further accused of neglecting a male and female sugar glider, a type of eastern Australian opossum that is named for its preference for sweet foods and can fly through the air up to 200 feet.

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

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

Potter also faces 15 charges related to running his business, including failing to check animals twice a day and failing to keep them in enclosures that ensure their health and welfare.

He is also charged with illegal possession of two veterinary medicinal products, namely the antibiotic Baytril and the anti-inflammatory Loxicom.

The case against the 39-year-old came up in Coleraine Magistrates’ Court on Friday, where it was adjourned for a competition hearing next month.

WE attempted to contact Potter to comment on the matter but received no response. Jungle Pets is still in business while the trial is ongoing and recently announced more exotic species on its social media, including a yellow chameleon and an African gray parrot.

The company 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 No.1 Exotic Pet Superstore; 25 years of experience; global imports supplying the northern parts of Co Antrim and Derry/Donegal”.

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