The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has passed a law banning the private ownership and trade of wild and dangerous animals, including cheetahs, tigers, and lions. Those keeping these animals as pets and status symbols will be subject to a $136,000 fine or jail.
Anyone seen in public walking his exotic pet–taking your cheetah for a walk is not unheard of in the UAE–could face up to six months in jail and will have the animal confiscated.
Ronel Barcellos, manager of the Abu Dhabi Wildlife Center, told CNN: “The UAE has come a long way … I am happy to see that the law has been passed, but steps need to be taken to ensure that it is implemented properly.”
The lions, cheetahs, tigers and other exotic animals have been illegally taken from their natural environment and smuggled into the UAE. Many do not survive the journey. It’s been reported that tiger cubs can cost $3,000 and a rare white lion can sell for around $50,000 on the black market.
The wealthy often post pictures on social media flaunting their exotic animal collections. Some owners have showcased their cheetahs in front of luxury cars, others show off photos of the animals being walked along the beach.
Even the Crown Prince of Dubai, Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, has posted several pictures of himself with a lion on Instagram.
Of course, they are unprepared for the extraordinary care required to keep these animals healthy and happy. Many are abandoned, leaving private individuals to care for the neglected animals in wildlife parks backed by the government.
One of these caregivers, Jasim Ali, told CNN, “If someone buys a very expensive animal, he is boasting that he has enough money to get anything he wants.
“If he has a tamed wild animal like a lion, he is trying to show off that he is brave. But this is not courage; this is animal rights abuse.”
The new law is effective immediately and owners are required to hand over their pets to the authorities.
[PHOTOS: via Instagram]