Private ownership of exotic animals including lions and tigers should be banned to protect the public, a senior Federal National Council member has said.
Ahmed Yousef Al Nuaimi, who leads the committee overseeing proposed changes to existing laws, said the move would give owners 12 months to hand over their exotic animals.
Under the new proposal, owners would have to comply or face fines of up to Dhs50,000 and jail if they refused.
Private ownership of animals such as big cats has again come under the spotlight after a lioness was found wandering the streets of Barsha in Dubai in January, having escaped its owner’s villa.
And Al Nuaimi told 7DAYS: “Keeping wild and exotic animals as pets threatens the public’s health and safety, as well the welfare of the animals.
“Wild animals attack, spread diseases, and the average pet owner can’t provide the care they need in captivity.” FNC members will this week examine the changes, which would see animals handed over to authorities or zoos.
Al Nuaimi added: “The new draft law aims to regulate the possession and breeding of wild animals, protect human health and prevent the transmission of diseases from animals to human beings.”
At present, wild animals can be kept if a permit is obtained by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. This would end under the new law.
Former RAK police chief Jassim Ali, who now runs Ras Al Khaimah Zoo, said many owners do not realise the dangers of keeping wild animals as pets, even if they have had their teeth and claws removed.
He welcomed the move, saying: “Recently, there have been notable incidents and we saw this when a lioness escaped onto the streets of Barsha, which might have ended tragically.
“Many people who keep exotic animals at their homes are risking their family members’ lives.” Telephone: 04 283 1317 Fax: 04 283 3143
UNTAMED: This lioness was caught wandering the streets of Barsha in January, causing panic, after escaping her owner’s villa