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Animals rights group hoping to ban goldfish at fairs

"Very often fish that are won as prizes suffer miserably from shock, oxygen starvation or die from changes in water temperature."

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By Josie Adnitt via SWNS

A prominent animal rights group is calling for a ban on goldfish being given away as fairground prizes in the UK - with more than 20 authorities already applying bans.

Goldfish in a round aquarium on a blue background. One fish floating in a glass sphere
The charity says that many goldfish die before their new owners can get them home. (Greens and Blues/Shutterstock)

The RSPCA charity say the practise is cruel to the species as it often causes suffering, shock - and death.

To date, 22 local authorities have already implemented bans and it is illegal to give goldfish away as prizes in Scotland, the RSPCA said.

But many areas in England and Wales still offer up the fishy friends - with fears the practise could return in force this summer, as fairs start up again post-COVID-19.

Lee Gingell, the RSPCA public affairs manager for local government in England, said: "Goldfish are easily stressed and very often fish that are won as prizes suffer miserably from shock, oxygen starvation or die from changes in water temperature, and many may die before their new owners can get them home."

Ferris Wheel with colorful cabins . Amusement park
The ultimate goal would be for goldfish as prizes to be banned completely. (Greens and Blues/Shutterstock)

“When bringing a fish home for the first time, it’s important to set the tank up at least two weeks in advance to make sure it’s all running smoothly, and this just isn’t possible for someone who’s won a fish without being prepared for it.”

Goldfish can grow to be large animals, with some reaching up to 30cm and living for up to 30 years.

Since 2015, the RSPCA has received 147 calls about goldfish and other aquatic animals being awarded as prizes, however, the number of calls dropped during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

And more than 9,000 charity supporters have already called on their local authorities to ban the practice on council land.

“Animals ownership is a big responsibility and while goldfish can make great companions, they shouldn’t be acquired via a spur-of-the-moment game,” Lee said.

“They're misunderstood pets as they can make great companions but can actually be challenging to look after and new owners must do their research before they acquire the fish, not afterward.

“There’s huge momentum behind the RSPCA campaign - last year thousands of people supported us in this campaign and we're over the moon to see so many local authorities already pass the RSPCA's notice of motion on this issue.

“We were also pleased to hear that pets-as-prizes was mentioned in Parliament last week by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, who is the Minister with responsibility for animal welfare, and he announced that Defra has commissioned some work on the issue for England.

“Our ultimate goal would be for the practise to be banned completely.

“We hope this summer we can spread the message further and encourage other local authorities across England and Wales to ban the giving of pets as prizes on their land, as well as taking action on other seasonal issues affecting animals.”

The charity’s long-running #NoFunAtTheFair campaign encourages animal lovers to send an email to their local councillor calling on them to ban the practice at fairgrounds on council-owned land.

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