x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Exotic pets can be very dangerous, warn UAE experts

An article in 999 Magazine says endangered and wild animals are popular and readily available for purchase in the Emirates, but experts warn against the practice.

Experts are concerned about findings from a report that endangered animals are readily available for purchase in the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National
Experts are concerned about findings from a report that endangered animals are readily available for purchase in the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National


Abu Dhabi // A scathing report criticising those keeping wild and exotic animals as pets has been published in Abu Dhabi Police’s monthly magazine.

The article in 999 Magazine says endangered and wild animals such as lions, cheetahs and tigers are popular and readily available to buy in the UAE, fetching anywhere between Dh15,000 and Dh50,000.

It is believed many dealers operate in the region, advertising on the internet.

A reporter from the magazine, posing as a representative of a buyer, quickly managed to contact a dealer and arranged to buy a cheetah cub for just Dh15,000.

Meyer de Kock, manager of Al Bustan Zoological Centre in Sharjah, said the findings were worrying. “As zoos, we want to make sure that people understand husbandry and the dangers involved in having exotic pets,” he said.

“Cheetahs, lions and tigers have very specific needs. They are very cute when they are small but when they grow up they are very dangerous.

“Also we are concerned about where the cubs are coming from. They are usually wild animals whose mothers have been killed to get to the babies.

“Before people invest into that they need to question why they are supporting the illegal market. If they really love the animals there are other ways of supporting that.”

It is legal to own exotic animals with a licence, but it is believed many flout the rules to keep the animals as a status symbol.

ksinclair@thenational.ae