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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Snakes seized from resort promenade
Generic image of a snake
Illegal traders charge people to be photographed with snakes
Three snakes have been seized by trading standards officers in Blackpool as part of the continuing campaign against illegal street traders.

The Burmese pythons were being used as a prop by photographers on the promenade.

The snakes were taken away as part of a joint investigation called Operation Abolish by the police, local council and RSPCA.

They have been taken to a sanctuary where they are receiving medical attention.

Tim Coglan from Blackpool trading standards said the authority was now involved in a "zero tolerance" campaign against the practice.

"Obviously our main concern is the animals' welfare, but the seizure is also part of a wider crackdown," he added.

"Our message is clear - illegal street trading will not be tolerated in Blackpool."

'Distressing, frightening'

Snakes being photographed are frequently spotted on Blackpool promenade.

Often the snakes look sick, and do not appear to be well-treated.

An RSPCA spokeswoman added it was unfair for animals to be taken from their natural environment for the amusement of people.

"That is one of the reasons the RSPCA does not take animals into schools," she added.

"It is not fair on animals. It may be good fun for us, but it is actually very distressing and frightening for the animals concerned."

The council has earmarked 50,000 to allow the operation to continue.

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