The practice of keeping wild animals as pets has become a menace in the UAE, according to the May issue of 999 English, the official monthly magazine of the Ministry of Interior.
The magazine's cover story details wild animal sightings in the UAE, how they are acquired, the threat to the public, the opinion of wildlife experts on the matter, its legality, and also interviews with two private zoo owners, one of whom rescues wild animals that are abandoned by their owners once they have outlived their utility as status symbols.
The report highlights that these wild animals are bought solely for showing off and most owners have no idea how to care for them. Veterinarian and volunteer Dr Marissa Akram, quoted in the report, said: “Most of the exotic pets here are declawed, with their sharp teeth filed down and are found malnourished. Medical records are usually non-existent and those handling such animals fail to realise they are exposing themselves and the society to various illnesses.”
Another expert pointed that though there were legal ways to bring an animal into the UAE, owners of exotic pets often took pride in bypassing the law. Dr Reza Khan, a specialist in wildlife and zoo management at Dubai Municipality’s Public Parks and Horticulture Department, said, “People keep dangerous animals to impress friends and colleagues that they can have such a pet without a legal permit.”
The animals traded most often are cubs of big cats like lion, leopard and tiger, followed by endangered tortoise, terrapin, iguana, ball python, non-venomous snakes, crocodile, parrot, macaw, cockatoo, baboon and, occasionally, chimpanzee. Cubs of the three big cats have been seen around the city, usually in the backseat of an SUV, sometimes poking their heads out of a window.
In the article, a resident says, “Our neighbourhood is turning into a mini safari. The only difference is that the residents are the ones roaming the concrete jungle while the wild animals cruise in air conditioned cars.” More....