New centre to house seized animals
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