Are exotic cats like a cheetahs and caracals legal in Dubai?

This is an interesting question because I’ve seen photographs of a wealthy Dubai resident in an expensive car with a cheetah on the front seat which gave me the impression that exotic animals as pets including cheetahs and caracals were legal to own in Dubai but I appears that I was mistaken.

Cheetah in car in Dubai
Cheetah in car in Dubai. Photo: in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It seems that the law was tightened up. At one stage it does appear as if people were buying cheetahs as pets in this most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and capital of the Emirate of Dubai but perhaps no longer or at least it has become illegal.

In 2017 the UAE introduced a federal law banning the possession of exotic and predatory animals including cheetahs. These animals can only be possessed by circuses, wildlife parks and zoos or perhaps breeding and research centres.

A story illustrates this. It comes from a residential community close to Global Village. The management company running that estate were obliged to tell the residents of the law because there were reports of an escaped big cat wandering around the estate. Apparently, a video online showed a large black cat passing through a back garden. A search took place using drones to find the animal.

The management company stated: “Possessing exotic animals and bringing them out into the public areas are strictly prohibited under the laws of Dubai. Violators can face a jail term of up to six months and a federal fine of up to Dh500,000 [$136,129] for the offence.”

That is a very clear statement. You will still find articles on the Internet about how wealthy Dubai residents flaunt their wealth with exotic pet animal but it would appear that this is no longer legal. We shouldn’t see it happen anymore but it all depends upon how the law is enforced. There are 2 aspects to lawmaking: the enactment of statutory law and the enforcement of the law. The former without the latter is next to useless.

Such a law does not only protect people but the greater good is that it protects wildlife. Cheetah cubs (sometimes not weaned) are stolen from their mothers in the wild and shipped to the Middle East as cubs. This is cruel and in breach of an international treaty called CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which bans trading many wild animals and wild animal products internationally.

The desire to own a cheetah is very self-indulgent and demonstrates an ignorance or callous disregard for the damage it does to sentient beings and wildlife generally. The chances are the purchaser does not have a clue how to look after a large wild cat species. They are likely to end up malnourished and ill quite quickly. More cruelty.


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