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Enthusiasts Pack Clark County Fairgrounds For Exotic Pet Exposition

A vendor shows off a lizard to enthusiasts at the Exotic Pet Exposition in Springfield
A vendor shows off a lizard to enthusiasts at the Exotic Pet Exposition in Springfield

Pet adoptions have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, including adoptions of exotic animals.

On Saturday, dozens of vendors and hundreds of enthusiasts packed the Youth Building at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield for an Exotic Pet Exposition.

There were a variety of animals at the expo—everything from lemurs and parrots to king boas and monitor lizards. However, there were no native species or animals regulated by the state or federal government—like lions, tigers and bears, or venomous animals.

Ron Billingsley was the show promoter. He is from Indianapolis and has been selling reptiles and birds since the late '80s in multiple states. Billingsley said at the exposition, with his pet eclectus parrot Baby on his shoulder, that his sales have increased since the start of the pandemic last March.

“My business has more than quadrupled since the pandemic." He said, "A: I think it's because people are bored. B: I think they're trying to keep busy, they're trying to do stuff to stay active during the pandemic.”

Billingsley said he was impressed by the turnout on Saturday. He said the high attendance is due to Springfield's proximity to Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, and to a lack of things to do during the pandemic. He said that from now on he plans to hold an exposition every month in Springfield.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

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The youth building at the Clark County fairgrounds for the Exotic Pet Exposition
Chris Welter / WYSO
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The youth building at the Clark County fairgrounds for the Exotic Pet Exposition
Turtles on display
Chris Welter / WYSO
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Turtles on display
Birds for sale
Chris Welter / WYSO
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Birds for sale