They are regarded as status symbols in Kuwait. If it is not a lion, it’ll be a tiger. In America, smaller but equally exotic wild cat pets are often cougars and servals.
The trouble with keeping a very large wild cat as a pet is that they are not cut out to be a pet. They don’t fit in with family life for many reasons, one of which is spraying (marking territory) and their sheer size. Also, the cost of keeping a pet lion is enormous. And what about finding a veterinarian for a lion?! There aren’t many in Kuwait, I’ll bet.
Another problem with keeping large exotic cats as pets is that they tend to escape the home or the enclosure. This very thing happened recently. A sub-adult lion escaped someone’s home and wandered around the local high class suburb of Kuwait City (Bayan district). The lion was captured by a passer-by who managed to lure the lion into his car. He then called the police because the lion became dangerous! It appears that the lion’s owner “rearing it as a pet”.
Some Kuwaiti families also do what some Americans like to do: have their own mini-zoo.
I disagree with this development. It simply makes matters worse for the lion and wild cat species generally. It is disrespectful of them and it encourages poaching of wild cat cubs for exportation as pets. There is quite a large trade in pet wild cats. It is cruel for the cubs and mother. How many don’t make it from their wild habitat to their domestic home? How stressed and ill do they become?
It is worth noting that escaped, pet wild cats often get shot. Of course. Why not? Even wild cat hybrids are vulnerable to being shot. Here is another example.
Note: the picture (modified and improved) originates in gulfnews.com and is published here under fair use principles.