Victory: UAE bans personal ownership of wild animals

Last week, the UAE government adopted a law to regulate the ownership of dangerous wild animals.

The law (2016 No. 22; originally passed in June as draft legislation) prohibits the personal ownership of a long list of dangerous wild animals, including big cats, hyenas, primates, bears, bats, wolves, zebras, giraffe, hippos, ostriches, vultures, crocodiles, snakes, spiders, scorpions and many others. The penalty is a jail term, a fine of 10,000 AED ($2,723 USD) to 700,000 AED ($190,575 USD) or both.

Additional penalties and fines are included for taking dangerous animals out in public (between one to six months in jail, a fine of 10,000 to 500,000 AED, or both); trading in dangerous animals (a jail term, a fine of50,000 to 500,000 AED, or both); and using animals to attack a person (up to one year, a fine of 10,000 to 400,000 AED if the person injured; three to seven years in jail if the attack results in disability; life imprisonment if the person dies).

This is a fabulous gift for animals, people and the environment in the new year. We congratulate the UAE government for this step in adopting such important legislation for the benefit of animals and people.

We strongly encourage other governments - not only in the Arabian Peninsula but around the world - to adopt similar legislation to prevent wild animal suffering and to protect people from dangerous encounters with such wild animals.

Since IFAW established its office in the UAE in late 2007, it has been clear that the ownership of exotic dangerous pets is a problem in the Arabian Peninsula. Keeping such dangerous animals is typically either seen as a status symbol or as a misguided attempt to conserve a species.

IFAW has long spoken out against the ownership of wild animals through the education of school students, educating them about the drawbacks of keeping wild animals as pets from different points of view. This includes conservation of wild animals in the wild and the animals’ own welfare, in addition to the dangers associated with public health, unpredictable behavior and the introduction of an invasive species to the local environment.

We also continue to work with customs, wildlife and veterinary quarantine officers in building their capacity to prevent the smuggling of wild animals as exotic pets.

We support the UAE government on this important legislation and all upcoming efforts to organize the implementation, enforcement and impact of laws that address the exotic pet problem.

1 United Arab Emirates Dirham equals 0.27 US Dollars or 0.26 Euros


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Jimmiel Mandima at IFAW
Deputy Vice President of Conservation
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime