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Kitty’s day out

Kitty’s day out

As an unknown cheetah strolls the streets of Sharjah, Kipp thinks the time may be right for a crackdown on the illicit trade of exotic pets.

December 8, 2010 1:15 by

What’s a Tuesday afternoon in Sharjah without your friendly neighborhood cheetah doing the rounds? Yes, you read correctly, we said cheetah.

Gulf News reports that a fully grown cheetah (of which still little is known) strolled the streets of Sharjah this week – much to the apprehension of many residents. The furry feline was first seen swimming in Khalid Port, where it jumped out of the water and slowly walked the streets.

The cheetah proceeded to saunter slowly around a local mosque, where it found a shady spot to sit down. Sharjah Police came to the rescue of terrified residents, cordoning off the area by the mosque until the Environment and Natural Reserves Authority arrived to take the big cat to a place where it would probably be more welcome.

Onlookers say they first thought the cheetah was a dog, and they weren’t too pleased to discover otherwise. Umair Ahmad a resident told Gulf News, “I was walking in the area when a group of men started shouting in Arabic that they saw a tiger. I thought it was a joke, but then soon enough I saw the cheetah walking on the street (…) I was scared but also very curious to see what would happen to it.”

Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Bin Darwish, Head of the Anjad traffic patrol section, said he thinks the cheetah was most likely a pet escaped from home: “The cheetah was believed to be about two years old and seemed quite tame. So we suspect that it was kept as a pet in a residential home nearby, and then managed to escape.”

Gulf News has some great photographs of the cheetah’s day out from eye witness and reader. You can check them out here.

Yes, it’s a great story. But a strolling cheetah on the streets of Sharjah does shed light on a rather pressing and sinister issue in the Emirates: possession of wild and exotic animals as pets, which seems to be a particular interest of some of the Emirates’ more affluent residents.

The story of the strolling cheetah, unfortunately, doesn’t surprise Kipp one bit because when we were at university (a local UAE university) it wasn’t uncommon for our more well-to-do classmates to bring their baby tiger, cobra, or leashed cheetah onto campus for some good ‘ol show and tell.

Though the UAE law does not allow wild animals to be kept as pets, there remains a significant demand for exotic pets. The illegal trade seems to be on the rise and Kipp, like many of those passionate about wild life, thinks the authorities need to crack down on those involved.

Perhaps the sight of a strolling predator on the street will prompt some action.

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