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Do you know who your wild neighbours are?

Are you be living right next door to some of the world’s most dangerous wild animals?

A survey conducted by wildlife charity Born Free has revealed that nearly 5,000 wild animals are being privately kept in the UK, including deadly snakes and crocodiles, lions, leopards, bears and even an elephant!

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 merely requires them to demonstrate that their animals are properly contained and not at risk of escape.

Born Free is now petitioning the UK Government to immediately review the law, and put a stop to some of the world’s most remarkable but often 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.

The survey asked local council across England, Scotland and Wales to reveal which dangerous wild animals are currently licenced. The results showed a total of 710 private addresses were registered as hosting dangerous animals, including;

  • 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

In addition, an elephant is licensed to be privately kept in Wales, and in England a giraffe, as well as 14 wolves, 3 bears, 9 leopards, 3 cheetahs, 9 lions and 9 tigers.  Other species being kept as pets or in private collections in the UK included zebras, camels, fossas, antelope, and otters.

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.”

For more information about the Born Free Foundation visit: www.bornfree.org.uk

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