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Reptiles take over Romford Shopping Hall

17:35 24 February 2014

One of the children got their hands on a salamander.

One of the children got their hands on a salamander.

Archant

Bearded dragons, geckos and a royal python were found in an empty shopping centre unit on Friday - but fear not, it was all planned.

Market manager Michelle Fitzgibbons with a royal python.Market manager Michelle Fitzgibbons with a royal python.

Romford Shopping Hall in Market Place welcomed the visitors from Reptile Haven in Dagenham to fill the vacant lot, which was decorated in camouflage ready for schoolchildren and local scout and guiding groups to enjoy.

Though it was half-term, Michelle Fitzgibbons, of the shopping hall, did not expect a turn out quite on the scale of what it was.

“We advertised to schools and local groups to come along and thought we might get 30 or so children.

“We had 1,500 - by 10am there was a queue. Upon reflection we could have done with three empty units!”

Reptile Haven rescues animals that can no longer be looked after, and the fascinated children were treated to a show and tell from owners Brad Page and Kelly Baker.

“It was amazing,” said Michelle, “the children held the animals and it’s just a shame they didn’t get to spend more time with them.”

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