RSPCA CONCERNED ABOUT THE NUMBER OF STRANGE PETS IN BUCKS
CAMELS, lemurs and monkeys are among the ‘dangerous’ animals kept in south Bucks, it has been revealed, prompting the RSPCA to raise concerns over residents’ choice of pets.
South Bucks District Council (SBDC) has allocated three dangerous wild animal licences to residents to keep ring-tailed lemurs, capuchin monkeys, camels and ostriches.
Less surprisingly, there are licences for dozens of animals living at the Fawley Hill Estate, with Brazilian tapirs, blackbucks and a variety of lemurs registered at the home of Lady Judith McAlpine and the late Sir William McAlpine.
A number of unusual creatures have been spotted roaming Marlow in recent years, including a South American coati, and the animal lover previously confirmed some belonged to her.
Dangerous wild animal licences are granted by councils to allow people to keep undomesticated animals as pets, providing they have safety measures at their home and pay a fee.
However, the RSPCA says it is “deeply concerned” about the number of wild animals being kept as pets, adding the dangerous wild animals act is “weakly drafted and badly enforced”.
Senior scientific manager at the RSPCA, Dr Ros Clubb, said: “There is no centrally-held list to determine how many are kept across the country, which makes it necessary to ask each and every local authority.
“The emphasis of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 is on making sure the owner takes reasonable steps to prevent the animal from being a threat to the public, rather than the welfare of the animals concerned.
“There is little or no consequence for those found to be keeping dangerous animals without a licence.”
Lady McAlpine questioned why someone would apply for a licence if they did not intend on caring for the animal – adding that there are signs at her home warning people about the creatures that roam the grounds.
She said: “What staggers me is the incredible ignorance of the average human.
“Hardly any know the difference between a llama and an alpaca and they haven’t a clue what a guanaco (the one in between) is.
“They think our Pere David’s deer are reindeer and someone thought our coati mundi were bears (they are the size of a fat domestic cat).
“I suspect the RSPCA is right in that the licence seems to be about you keeping the animals securely. Not that you look after them well.
“That said, the vet who inspects would presumably say you shouldn’t be allowed a licence if he/she thought the animals were not being well cared for?”
Kate Murray, a spokesman for SBDC, says the authority takes the act “very seriously” and ensures all properties are inspected by a qualified vet to make sure the housing for the animals is “safe and sufficient”.
She added: “The inspection process ensures that the housing for the animals is safe and sufficient, that the premises where the animal(s) is kept is secure to prevent escape and that the applicant has the correct experience and knowledge to safely and responsibly care for the animal.”
A spokesman for Wycombe District Council added: “We are unaware of any owners who do not have a licence but we would act on any information or complaint received.”
PHOTO: CALLUM MOFFAT
Lemurs, ostriches, tapirs, camels and capuchin monkeys are just some of the exotic pets to be found in homes in south Bucks PHOTO: JEFF J MITCHELL/ GETTY IMAGES
PHOTO: EUAN MCCALL
PHOTO: DAVID POWELL
PHOTO: DAN KITWOOD/ GETTY IMAGES