Warning: Wild animals do not make good pets

Warning: Wild animals do not make good pets

Public health officers in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, are taking action against people who keep wild animals in their homes.

The owners are being fined 10,000 dirhams (US$2,722) and their animals are being confiscated. They may also have to pay compensation to anyone their animals have injured.

Teams of inspectors are touring residential areas on the lookout for tigers, cheetah, snakes, crocodiles, monkeys, lizards and other wildlife. The inspectors also are canvassing markets to find sellers of these exotic animals.

This is an excellent move by the local government of Ajman. IFAW’s Middle East/North Africa office regularly calls for banning the practice of keeping of wild animals--particularly dangerous animals--as pets.

In last few years, the number of people in the UAE who keep wild animals has increased. Federal or local governments urgently need to take measures to stop this practice by adopting legislation that prohibits keeping these animals.

Already, we have been informed that the Ministry of Environment and Water is preparing a list of dangerous animals that cannot be imported.

Educating the public of the risks of keeping wild animals is also a necessary step. The sooner children learn of the dangers of keeping wild animals, the better.

Wild animals have specific needs that the people who wish to own them cannot meet. It’s difficult to provide wild animals in captivity the same environment they had in the wild and their owners do not take into consideration factors such as habitat, temperature, light, food and water.

Another important aspect of keeping wild animals as pets is the possibility that diseases may be transmitted from wild animals‑ especially primates‑to humans.

Wild animals are a threat to the communities in which they are kept captive. Whatever safety and security standards the owners adopt will not prevent potentially dangerous consequences because people make mistakes. Consider that even in zoos, where professionals work at a high safety standard, accidents occur, the animals harm their care takers or escape to prowl the streets.

The last consideration is that many species of wild animals are endangered and keeping them as pets only adds to the challenges of keeping them safe from extinction.

-- EM

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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