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50,000 spiders arrive in Coventry

Over 50,000 spiders, scorpions and other insects will be on display at the Ricoh Arena in May for an event likened to ‘The Crufts of The Spider World'.
The British Tarantula Society (BTS) is staging its 29th annual exhibition which will attract visitors from as far away as America and Europe from 11am until 4pm on Sunday, May 18.

Ray Hale, Vice Chairman of the British Tarantula Society, said around 2,000 visitors were expected to attend the show in the E.ON Lounge.

He said: “We are expecting around 100 exhibitors selling spider-related items ranging from tarantulas and equipment to books, jewellery and T-shirts.

“To be honest, it would be impossible to count how many spiders are on display but I think 50,000 is a conservative estimate.

“Visitors will be able buy a variety of arachnids, scorpions, stick insects, beetles and other insects throughout the day, meet other enthusiasts and seek advice from experts on the best way to look after their new pets.

“Society members will be able to submit their prized spiders for a series of awards including 'Best Brachypelma Species', 'Best New World Terrestrial' and 'Best Scorpion'.

"The competition is always excellent and whilst intended as a bit of fun some people take it very seriously indeed. We have had some great spiders put forward in the past. Dozens of BTS members spend months planning the event and volunteer their free time on the day to make sure everything runs smoothly.

"We usually pick up a lot of new members at the event. It is always great to see so many people buying or just looking. In times of recession, people revert back to their hobbies. Our main aim is to educate people about these wonderful and yet truly misunderstood creatures. The BTS began in 1985 and has always been about captive breeding, conservation and education."

Ray who is originally from Birmingham and is married to Angela, has about 200 tarantulas at his home in Sussex, added: “This is an opportunity for like-minded spider keepers or people, who are simply interested to find out more.

“Everyone is welcome to come along as the exhibition is open to members and non-members. Academics will be on hand to answer questions, there will be competitions and a free lecture by one of the world’s leading arachnologists, Dr. Stuart Longhorn, of the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

“If anyone is interested in keeping tarantulas or simply want to see some of the largest spiders on the planet this is the place to come along to because we can provide expert advice and information to give a happy and healthy environment for their spiders.”

Chris Owen, senior events manager at the Ricoh Arena, said this was the first time the British Tarantula Society had held its annual exhibition at the venue.

“It will be interesting to see all the spiders in their glass cases and this is certainly something a little different,” he said.

“Hosting the British Tarantula Society Exhibition underlines our versatility because it is not every day that we host 50,000 exotic pets!”

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