Spotlight Middle East: A tiger in your tank

VIDEO: An Esso spot from the 1960s...

Exxon, or Esso as it was known in those days (and still is in some parts of the world) used to have an advertisement on television touting the wonders of their gasoline products claiming that if you filled your tank with Exxon you were putting a tiger in your tank. 

The imagery was great but I don’t think anyone would have ever really considered putting a tiger in the gas tank of your car or anywhere else in your car for that matter.

I don’t want to wax nostalgic but I wonder if those times where a bit saner when it comes to putting a tiger in your car at least.  Last month for instance, when a driver in Dubai was seen with a tiger hanging out of the side of his car whilst driving through a popular tourist area filled with restaurants and cafes. 

There was some speculation that the tiger was just a fuzzy stuffed animal but the evidence of growing numbers of people with exotic pets, including tigers, lions, and cheetahs would suggest otherwise.

The previous week there had been reports of cheetahs running loose in the city of Abu Dhabi.

The Emirate of Ajman recently outlawed the ownership of exotic pets such as tigers and other big cats.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare office in Dubai has been running a public awareness campaign called Think Twice calling on residents of the United Arab Emirates to reject the notion of owning these magnificent but dangerous wild animals

We have also recently published a children’s book in Arabic explaining why you should not keep exotic pets in your house even though they are so cute when they are little.

The exotic pet trade contributes to the poaching of wild animals, many of whom die en route to their new owners’ home.  I would hope that responsible animal lovers out there would set an example and not encourage exotic pet ownership. 

The kids are getting that message, perhaps we will have to rely on them to teach their parents well.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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