New cen­tre to house seized an­i­mals

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - @B_Shosh shoshana@7days.ae

A new cen­tre to house the grow­ing num­ber of banned ex­otic an­i­mals seized from own­ers is be­ing built in Shar­jah.

The En­vi­ron­ment and Pro­tected Ar­eas Au­thor­ity (EPAA) is con­struct­ing the 500sqm refuge as a “log­i­cal con­se­quence” to the ban, first in­tro­duced in 2014, an of­fi­cial said.

Since then, own­ers that have not vol­un­tar­ily handed over their ex­otic an­i­mals, which in­clude lions, tigers and pri­mates, for ex­am­ple, have had their pets taken from them.

Own­ers can be fined up to Dhs100,000.

Twenty an­i­mals were seized in the first three months of this year alone.

The fa­cil­ity is one of at least two new cen­tres in the emi­rate, the other be­ing a pri­vate zoo by Emirati col­lec­tor, Hu­maid Al Buqaish, 30, who said he wanted to en­sure such an­i­mals are prop­erly cared for.

An EPAA of­fi­cial said: “It’s al­ready been two years now since the new law meant you are not al­lowed to keep dan­ger­ous, wild an­i­mals in pri­vate houses. By Shoshana Ke­dem

“This [new fa­cil­ity] was a con­se­quence of that law and was unan­nounced, but we will have a spe­cial place for them in the fu­ture.”

Speak­ing about the 20 seized from own­ers this year, he said: “We take them, but we’re run­ning out of space. “We didn’t like to have these an­i­mals in the breed­ing cen­tre so that’s why a spe­cial quar­an­tine cen­tre is be­ing built.”

He added that the area would be off lim­its to vis­i­tors.

The ban was first in­tro­duced in re­sponse to ev­i­dence that wealthy res­i­dents were buy­ing such an­i­mals, only to be un­able to look af­ter them.

Some could also be a dan­ger to the pub­lic in the event of an es­cape.

Shar­jah res­i­dent Al Buqaish is one of the own­ers af­fected by the ban.

He told 7DAYS that he had “around 50 an­i­mals in his house at one point”, and was urged by au­thor­i­ties to build a pri­vate zoo, which is due to be com­pleted in one year.

He said the zoo will ac­com­mo­date his re­main­ing 10 an­i­mals, in­clud­ing six lions, two tigers and two hye­nas.

Al Buqaish said the au­thor­i­ties had been prag­matic and pro­vided him with land.

He said: “They sup­ported me and gave me the land to build my zoo.

“They were ex­tremely sup­ported me in ev­ery way.”

The en­clo­sures will en­sure all the an­i­mals are kept safely and se­curely, with ac­cess to food, gen­er­ous and and water. Al Buqaish said. “I built the zoo as a con­se­quence of the law ban­ning wild and dan­ger­ous an­i­mals in pri­vate houses,” he said. “And be­cause I heard from many peo­ple that keep­ing ex­otic pets would not be al­lowed any­more.”

Last week, the Fed­eral Na­tional Coun­cil passed a draft law that bans the pri­vate own­er­ship of ex­otic an­i­mals na­tion­wide. At present, own­ers can ap­ply for pri­vate li­cences.

It will now go to the Cab­i­net for ap­proval. The same law also bans the walk­ing of dogs off leads in any pub­lic place na­tion­wide.

ON THE MOVE: Hu­maid Al Buqaish, who shared this pic­ture on In­sta­gram, is build­ing a zoo fol­low­ing a ban on the keep­ing of ex­otic an­i­mals in pri­vate homes

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