Man fined after swallowing goldfish at fair

Man who swallowed funfair goldfish avoids jail

A man has been fined after he was filmed swallowing a live goldfish that had been won at a funfair, the RSPCA said.

Joshua Coles, 27, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal in relation to the incident in September last year.

In a 14-second clip, he can be seen with the live fish in his hand before swallowing it with a drink and then showing his empty mouth to the camera.

The video was posted on Snapchat, where it was shared widely and reported to the RSPCA.

Officers said that Coles, of Washfield, near Tiverton, Devon, had won the fish at Bridgwater Fair in Somerset between September 26 and 29.

Man who swallowed funfair goldfish avoids jail

Exeter Magistrates' Court heard that the fish would have been under stress and suffered before it slowly died.

Coles was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, was banned from keeping fish for five years, and fined a total of £385, the RSPCA said.

John Pollock, an RSPCA inspector, said: "While it may have seemed funny at the time, it is not a nice end for any animal.

"I believe that any reasonable person would be aware that swallowing live animals would cause those animals to suffer.

"The RSPCA is opposed to the giving of live animals as prizes and would say to people who see this: don't be tempted.

"Animal ownership is a big responsibility that needs to be planned and well thought-out – not a spur-of-the-moment thing that happens just because someone has won a prize.

"Games offering animals as prizes don't take this into consideration. Very often the 'prize' animals suffer miserably, as the busy fairground, show or even country fete is just too much for them.

"Goldfish are often offered as prizes, but are easily stressed. They may suffer from shock, oxygen starvation or even die from changes in water temperature.

"Many fairground fish die before their new owners can get them home – or soon afterwards."

He asked members of the public to contact their local authority or event organisers asking them to adopt a policy of not allowing animals to be given as prizes.

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