Tiger loose in Doha: Exotic pet ownership, trade must stop in Middle East

Recently, social media erupted when someone captured on video a tiger roaming the streets of Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Another video posted on Facebook shows the animal falling out of a truck driving down the Doha Expressway before running off. Footage of the animal finally being recaptured was posted by the al-Watan newspaper.

According to all reports, no people were injured as a result, and the tiger appeared to have come through the frightening ordeal unscathed.

But it could have easily become a tragedy.

It’s not new here in the Arab Gulf countries.

Just earlier this month the local newspapers reported that a young man had been attacked by a lioness while he was trying “to train it.” His friend killed the lioness trying to save him. The young man was moved to hospital, but he died one day later. In December 2014, a maid was attacked by a lion and died a few days later in the hospital. Again the owner killed the animals and burned their bodies.

The main reason for keeping such dangerous animals is to show status or impress friends.

Sadly, the owners of these animals risk the lives of themselves, the public, and the poor animals by ignoring the consequences of keeping these wild animals. Say what they want to defend their actions, it is just a matter of time before these animals show their wild behavior, or for human error to occur.

READ: 5 reasons to join our efforts to end the black market trade in exotic pets

These animals simply do not belong in humans’ homes.

IFAW has campaigned to prohibit keeping wild animals as pets ever since we opened our Middle East/North Africa office officially in late 2007.

Currently, IFAW MENA office is in cooperation with Ministries of Education in a number of countries (UAE, Bahrain and Lebanon) in addition to the Environment Authority of Kuwait to educate schoolkids about the drawbacks of keeping wild animals as pets—from safety concerns due to unpredictable behavior and risk of diseases, to animal welfare and conservation concerns.

So far we’ve targeted almost 100,000 school students in different grades to change the behavior of keeping wild animals as pets.

We value and appreciate the efforts of local governments in UAE like Sharjah and Ajman who issued a local legislation that prohibits keeping wild animals as pets. We also value the step of submitting draft legislation by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to prohibit this practice.

We are encouraging all Arab Gulf countries to adopt such legislation as soon as possible before more victims get hurt.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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