Leaping lizards! Have we got a show for you

Gillian Salmon with a kitten from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Centre
Gillian Salmon with a kitten from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Centre

AS A nation of pet lovers, there is no doubt that this event will draw the crowds, and following on from last year’s success, it will appeal to everyone passionate about animals, from dog and cat enthusiasts to reptile fans and lovers of little furry friends, writes Jen Lavery.

So, if you’re already an owner, you’re still thinking about taking the plunge, or you just want a chance to see lots of different animals – including some celebrities – under one roof, then the Lovepets Show might just be for you.

Back for the second year running, the event on September 1-2 is aiming to top last year’s massively popular debut.

Gerry Carney, from event organiser Scotsman Publications, said: “Lovepets is Scotland’s largest pet show, returning after a very successful first year in 2011.

“It covers all pets, from reptiles to dogs and is a great day out for all the family.

“We had roughly 5,000 visitors last year and this year we’re hoping for more, thanks to some great support from our sponsors Direct Line Pet Insurance, Glasgow University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and The Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies.”

More than 70 different exhibitors will be setting up shop at the Royal Highland Centre and offering advice and products to suit all pets. And that’s not all.

Gerry said: “We’ll have duck-herding demonstrations, ferret racing, we’re holding a dog agility show and there will be a petting area too, featuring giant rabbits. We had them last year, so hopefully this year they’ll be even bigger. And we’ve got Ragdoll cats and kittens, which are extremely fluffy, very placid, and love being stroked.”

And giving the Lovepets show a little extra touch of magic, visitors will have the chance to have their pictures taken with two of the world’s most famous owls.

“Visitors can meet Hedwig and Errol from the Harry Potter films. They also came to Lovepets last year and were very popular, especially with the kids,” Gerry continued.

They aren’t the only stars of the screen who will be in attendance.

Gerry added: “We’re even getting a visit from Heather Smith and her Crufts-winning dancing TV star dog Maddie.”

As if this wasn’t enough, it turns out Lovepets really wasn’t kidding when it promised something for everyone.

“For those who want to see something a bit more exotic, Fife Animal Park are bringing a mini-zoo, featuring lemurs, goats, a donkey and an emu. I would say the emu is probably the strangest animal we’ll be hosting. It 
was quite a shock when they told us they could bring one, but 
we immediately said ‘Right, let’s do it’.

“Plus Cool Creatures will be back, bringing along a plethora of unusual pets such as reptiles, snakes and even spiders. There will also be handling sessions, so whether you already love these kinds of animals, or have a phobia you want to challenge, come on down.”

Calum Pennykid, owner of Cool Creatures, based in West Lothian, said nervous types will have nothing to worry about.

“We were at the Lovepets show in 2011 and this year we will be even 
bigger,” he said. “We’re bringing 
various different animals – a skunk, a tortoise, meercats, hedgehogs, 
pythons, boa constrictors, tarantulas, scorpions, a bearded dragon, a blue-tongued skink, plus 
mini-beasts like cockroaches and millipedes.

“Last year we had lots of people visiting us and taking turns at holding things like our 9ft python. It’s not just the kids who are fascinated either, quite often when we do children’s parties we notice that grandparents especially are really interested in the creatures we have, and relish their chance to handle them for the first time.

“Some people are slightly nervous, but part of what we do is to explain the common misconceptions that surround these animals. Lots of people seem to think that tarantulas will bite and kill you, or that boa constrictors are going to squeeze you to death.

“If people are concerned we talk them through their worries and show them that these animals are not as threatening as they are often portrayed to be.”

If the closest you’ve ever been to a skunk is watching Pepe Le Pew on a Saturday morning, rest assured that the odds are very much against anyone being dosed with their “distinctive” scent.

“They only ever spray if they’re scared or threatened, but in captivity they are usually fine,” explained Calum. “Our skunk is only 13 weeks old and very friendly. She’s already been doing kids’ parties and has been totally relaxed about the whole thing. I have to say she’s been a big hit with me too, though I really couldn’t pick a favourite out of all my animals.

“The meerkats are fantastic, the blue-tongued skink is great, he likes to lick people’s noses. Sidney the bearded dragon is four years old, making him one of our older animals, but he is still very popular.

“I’ve only had the monitor lizard for six weeks. He’s about three-and-a-half feet long now and has a great personality. I stick him in a harness and take him for walks in the local park. We get some funny looks. Someone once asked if he was an alligator, and if I was taking him to swim in the pond.”

Already the star of his local park, the monitor lizard will also be one of the topics of Calum’s talk on responsible pet ownership.

“I’m his third owner. His first one got him when he was a baby, but had to give him away when he kept growing out of his tanks. That’s when his second owner took him on, but unfortunately he still had some growing to do, so she got in touch with us.

“It’s important to do the research before taking on any animal.”

z Tickets for Lovepets 2012 can be 
purchased from www.lovepetshow.co.uk