The UAE just announced a major victory for wild animals.
Exciting news came from the United Arab Emirates on Monday as the federation announced on Wednesday that the private ownership of all wild animals would be banned. In the past, animals such as cheetahs, lions, and tigers have been an integral part of a household wishing to flaunt a sign of their status.
Despite the dangers associated with owning big cats, those wealthy enough to own them have continued to purchase and “domesticate” them to seemingly make them safe for the home. Some cheetahs have been deemed as domesticated in the UAE and other neighboring countries, but most of these cats were caught in the wild and tamed afterwards rather than bred in captivity. This is because breeding cheetahs in captivity is very difficult, especially by private citizens not knowledgeable in animal husbandry, so a strong lineage of domesticated cheetahs is hard to come by.
The UAE has long been a focal point for the wildlife trade because of its loose regulations, but all of that will change with this new law.
Dubbed the Law on Regulation of Ownership of Dangerous Animals, the new rules state that “only zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centers are entitled to keep wild or exotic animals,” which is a step in the right direction.
Though the conditions of some of the wildlife institutions in the Emirates are questionable, animal advocates view this change as a victory when it comes to keeping exotic animals from unsafe living conditions. The trade in wild animals itself poses huge risks to many creatures that are trafficked by civilians, something which can no longer legally take place in the UAE. Elsayed Mohamed, the regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Dubai, told The National newspaper,
“We welcome and congratulate the UAE Government in taking this important initiative, which we wish to be a milestone for the rest of the countries, not just in the region, but also in the world.”
Advocates can only hope that enforcement is as strict as the legal consequences of breaking the law. If a civilian takes an illegal animal out in public, they can be given 6 months in jail as well as a fine up to $2,500. If an illegal animal attacks, terrorizes, or kills another person, the owner will face anywhere from 3 years to life in prison.
This news comes just a few months after a video of five tigers playing on the beach in Dubai caused a stir because many people did not know that exotic animals were allowed to be owned as pets in other countries. The uproar may have contributed to this law, which was likely already in the works when the outrage ensued.
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