This change in the law is very welcome and necessary. The ban covers the private ownership of exotic animals and potentially dangerous animals. Quite frankly it is about time. I am tired of seeing wealthy Arabs in expensive cars cruising down the high street with a cheetah or other large but ‘tamed’ wild cat in the passenger seat. It looks gross.
It is highly disrespectful of the cat and it is demeaning. It looks wrong and arrogant. It is bad for wildlife as cheetah cubs are taken from the wild in Africa to satisfy this arrogant and hedonistic form of human behaviour.
In Dubai the keeping of exotic cats and other species is considered a status symbol. Sad really for both cat and person that so much emphasis is placed on status.
In October last year a video of five tigers being taken to the beach went viral. And other Emiratis have been filmed driving around with lions on the front passenger seat. The pictures on this page give us the flavour of how Emiratis like to flaunt their status and wealth.
The new law exempts zoos, wildlife parks, circuses and breeding and research centres.
Anyone taking an cheetah, for example, out in public will be liable on conviction to a six months jail term and a fine of Dh 10,000 to Dh 500,000 ($136,641 USD!).
There are a range of other penalties for different aspects of the consequences of keeping an exotic animal such as injury or the terrorising of people.
All imported animals are to be registered. Wild cats and other exotic animals cannot not be reared as pets.
This is most welcome as it furthers conservation. It is late in coming, I believe. When cheetahs are rapidly declining in numbers in Africa it is unacceptable to export cubs to UAE as pets to the rich and idle. Cheetahs are perhaps a favourite because they are more amenable to being tamed and less dangerous.