Go­ing wild

RSPCA CON­CERNED ABOUT THE NUM­BER OF STRANGE PETS IN BUCKS

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By JAS­MINE RAPSON Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

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

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