A new survey has revealed that 4,755 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept in the UK.
The new survey by wildlife charity Born Free has led to them petitioning the UK government to immediately review the law, and put a stop to some of the world’s most deadly creatures being in kept in unsuitable environments.
Confining these animals in domestic settings is not only cruel says Born Free, but can also pose a significant risk to human life and the lives of domestic pets.
Whilst there are an estimated 11 million people who own a pet in the UK, the survey – which asked every local council across England, Scotland and Wales which dangerous wild animals are currently licenced – revealed that a total of 710 private addresses are hosting dangerous animals. These include:
Almost 300 wild cats, such as Servals and Lynx including over 40 big cats – lions, tigers, leopards, pumas and cheetahs
Over 80 venomous lizards, such as the Mexican Beaded lizard and Gila monster
Over 130 lemurs and 100 monkeys, particularly Ring Tailed lemurs and Capuchins
Over 75 crocodilians, mostly Caimans
Over 700 venomous snakes, including Puff Adders, Black Mambas and Diamondback rattlesnakes
Currently, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, anyone in Britain can keep a dangerous wild animal as long as they obtain a licence from their local authority. The licence application requires them to demonstrate that their animals are properly contained and not at risk of escape.
Dr Chris Draper, head of animal welfare and captivity for Born Free, said: “The keeping of wild animals as pets is a growing concern. The widespread use of the internet has made it easier than ever to ‘order’ or purchase a wild animal without clarification as to where it has come from or how it should be cared for.
“Wild animals are particularly vulnerable to welfare problems because of their complex social, physical and behavioural needs. They require specific housing conditions, dietary requirements, and furthermore, the safety risk these animals pose to their owners and the wider public should not be ignored.”
Born Free is calling for a review of the legislation covering the keeping of wild animals as pets, including the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and calling for more restrictions on the ownership of dangerous wild animals. This includes the need for consideration of large constrictor snakes, which do not currently require a licence to be kept as pets.