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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

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