In a move sure to please animal rights advocates around the world, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has now completely banned the private ownership of wild animals. This is big news, as owning exotic animals as pets is a sign of status in the Middle East country.


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Al Jazeera reported on Wednesday that the new law outlaws both dealing in and ownership of all kinds of wild, domesticated and dangerous animals. This includes wild cats such as cheetahs, which have reportedly been domesticated in the UAE and other nearby countries.

While not necessarily related, the new law comes on the heels of a video featuring an excursion with five tigers on a beach near Dubai’s Al-Arab hotel that went viral on social media, and other videos of people driving around with lions. According to Gulf News, these kinds of animals can now only be housed at zoos, wildlife parks, and circuses, along with breeding and research centers.

Related: China makes it illegal to eat endangered species

Gulf news also reports that anyone who breaks the law by taking any kind of exotic animal “out in public” will be slapped with as much as six months in jail and a fine or $136,000 USD. Al-Ittihad, an Arabic daily paper adds that people who use such animals to “terrorize” other people will be faced with a jail term along with the stiffer financial penalty of about $180,000 USD.

Needless to say, a law like this is a breath of fresh air for animal rights activists, including El Sayed Mohamed. The regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Dubai said this new law sets an example for not only other Arab countries, but also the world.

“We welcome and congratulate the UAE Government in taking this important initiative, which we wish to be a milestone for the rest of the countries, not just in the region, but also in the world,” he told the The National, an Abu Dhabi newspaper.

This adds to more good news in the animal rights world, where China made it illegal to eat endangered species last year.

Via Al Jazeera

Images via Mukul2u and Cecil, Wikimedia Commons