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‘Thousands’ of dangerous animals kept as pets in the UK

Crocodiles, zebras, lions, tigers and cobras are just some of the wild animals kept legally on private property across the UK, figures have revealed.

More than 300 venomous cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes are owned by members of the public, an investigation by the Press Association has found.

Big cats including 13 tigers, two lions, eight leopards, seven cheetahs and nine pumas are also being kept being enclosures within the UK.

More than 100 councils have issued licences to people who keep undomesticated animals at home.

Animal welfare experts have expressed concern at the findings.

Homes for the dangerous animals include enclosures based in London, Swansea, Stoke, Sheffield, Hull and Portsmouth.

In Cornwall, the council has issued licences for pumas, lynxes, ocelots, lemurs, vipers, ostriches and an assortment of wild cats.

In Central Bedfordshire the council has felt it appropriate to house wolves, alligators, caimans, black widow spiders, venomous snakes and short-clawed otters.

115 Lemars were found to be kept of in domestic settings as well as fifteen wolves registered at UK addresses.

The RSPCA said they were ‘deeply concerned’ and worried about the well-being of the dangerous wild animals kept in a domestic setting.

A spokeswoman said: “People may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep and the animals are sometimes neglected when the novelty wears off and the commitment hits home.

“Licences for exotic animals classed as dangerous wild animals – such as cobras, ostriches and caiman crocodiles – are granted by local authorities and the details are also held locally. There is no centrally-held list to determine how many are kept across the country.

“The emphasis of this legislation 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.”

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