Children in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will no longer be able to play with exotic animals. The local governing body had issued a ban on privately owned dangerous species as pets.
Owning rare and dangerous exotic animals like lions, cheetahs, crocodiles, and other reptiles had become quite commonplace in UAE. These exotic wild animals had replaced stuffed toys for many schoolchildren in the UAE. Shockingly, these children had the willful consent of their parents. If that’s not all, it was these parents who visited multiple overseas locations, looking for rare and exotic breeds to buy and bring back as pets for their children, shared Dr. Elsayed Mohammad, Regional Director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) — Middle East and North Africa.
“We noticed that the main problem is related to kids who would like to have [exotic] animals and play with them as a toy. I am mentioning this to draw the attention to who is driving the demand for exotic animals: the demand is from kids.”
The demand for these magnificent, and many times endangered, species peaked right after the religious festival of Ramadan, when parents eagerly scouted animal markets, continued Dr. Elsayed.
“You will see mostly families, not individuals, going to the shop with their kids to buy what range from reptiles to primates sometimes, mammals, and many different species.”
What’s truly appalling is the sheer lack of awareness about the trade. Fortunately, his Highness Dr. Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, issued the decision to ban the practice of owning such animals as common household pets.
However, before the ban, you could easily buy a rare and exotic breed for as low as 60 dirhams ($16). Lions, pythons, leopards and cheetahs seemed to be the hot favorites, followed by chimpanzees, tortoises, and many different types of big birds.
From 2012 to 2014, UAE imported 114 lions, 19,731 iguanas, and countless other exotic species. Thankfully, these numbers have dropped significantly owing to stricter ownership laws. Moreover, the animals which are currently held under captivity for the amusement of children will soon be rounded up by the government and handed over to the departments that have trained personnel, the right equipment, and adequate enclosures for the poor creatures.
UAE seems to be prepping its zoos for the influx of hundreds of lions and leopards. Perhaps, with the right bargain, it might offer these surplus beauties to other countries.
[Image Credit: Their Turn, Hamari Web]