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24 September 2014
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UK's Worst … ? exposes illegal trade in wild animals

Wednesday 19 February, BBC ONE, 8.00pm

A BBC undercover journalist has been sold a lioness from a pet shop owner while investigating the country's worst pet shops.

UK's Worst … Pet Shops? will show secret footage of the journalist, who was posing as a member of the public, arranging the sale through Steve Haswell, owner of the Fish Centre in Enfield.

On his second visit to the pet shop the journalist was offered the lioness for just £700. In order to own a dangerous wild animal in the UK a licence must be obtained but at no point did Haswell ask to see the necessary paperwork.

Haswell and the journalist travelled to Basildon Zoo, which has been closed since last year, to pick up the lioness, named Carla. After paying a further £800 Carla was moved into a cage in the journalist's van.

Yolanda Surcouf, the owner of the zoo, also offered the journalist other wild animals including leopards and wildcats. She showed no regard for Carla's future, even saying: "I don't care if you chop her up for steaks".

The vet hinted that this was not the first sale that she had been called in to assist with, boasting that she was an "expert in cover-up jobs" and that there would be "no paperwork".

However, luckily for Carla the team had obtained the necessary paperwork and a special cage which is suitable for moving wild animals. The journalist drove the van to a service station where a vet checked that Carla was fit to travel and was taken to West Midlands Safari Park.

The ending is not only a happy one but also surprising for both the production team and the West Midlands Safari park keeper Bob Lawrence. Lawrence had hand-reared Carla, whose real name is Rosie, before she was sold to Basildon Zoo and was delighted to be reunited with her.

Notes to Editors

Pictures are available, for media use only, via the BBC Press Office.

UK's Worst … Pet Shop? is the first programme in the second series of UK's Worst …?, an investigative programme that exposes the worst in bad service across the UK.

The series is presented by Nick Knowles and Rianna Scipio.

Further information about UK's Worst ...? as well as useful consumer advice can be found at

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels - including BBC THREE - as well as six BBC radio networks.



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