Born to be wild, not pets
The appearance of a Royal Python near an Al Ain shopping mall gets Kipp thinking of the UAE residents’ somewhat unfortunate attitude towards exotic animal as pets.
November 21, 2011 3:50 by p.deleon
Earlier this week, Emirates 24|7 reported of the particularly tough time shoppers headed to Al Ain City Centre had when a five-foot long royal python strayed close to the mall. Of course there was a lot of panic, with the usual unhelpful onlookers ‘looking on’ blocking traffic and causing panic. So, though we don’t really have any updates as to where Mr. Royal Python came slithering from, the UAE’s particularly bad reputation with animal smuggling makes us quite cynical.
After all, it was just under a year ago that we reported of a fully grown cheetah that was seen to be strolling the streets of Sharjah– 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 terrorising the masses that tend to gather during such situations. Nobody knew where the cheetah came from, but the worst, and probably most realistic, suspicion is the cheetah belonged to one of the UAE’s more affluent ‘lover’ of wild animals.
For its part, the UAE law particularly does not allow wild animals to be kept as pets, but there remains a significant demand for exotic pets. The UAE’s failure to abide by Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) led to a suspension back in 2001-although it was reinstated in the following year. Nonetheless, since then the UAE has been asked to explain an ‘alarming surge in incident involving exotic animals’ by CITES.
In June of this year Noor Mahmood, a 36-year-old Emirati man was arrested at a Thailand airport for trying to smuggle baby leopards, panthers, monkeys and a bear in his luggage to Dubai. Though he was arrested, Mahmood managed to escape Thailand after paying a bail of more than $6,500.
Part of what aggravates Kipp when we hear of instances like the one above, is the compliant attitude among many UAE residents that condone and even appreciate the domestication of wild animals. When we were at a local university a few years ago, we remember two instances that typified this attitude: particularly a rather unforgettable time when an Emirati male student bought his pet young adult cheetah on a leash to the university. Though the cheetah was perfectly domesticated, what horrified Kipp was the almost boastful pride glimmering in the eyes of the owner. Having laws that crackdown on the illegal trading of these exotic and wild animals are all very well, but changing attitudes towards the treatment and relationship with these animals is something the UAE needs to think well and hard about!