Exotic Pets on the rise in Milton Keynes are you living next door to some of the world’s deadliest creatures?
Have you spotted any Capuchin Monkeys in Milton Keynes?
A new survey from Born Free, an animal conservation charity, discovered 4,000 wild animals are privately kept in Britain.
Of these dangerous animals 250 are believed to be homed in Buckinghamshire.
Milton Keynes Council staff gave licenses to five owners, allowing them to keep capuchin monkeys.
Born Free is calling on the UK Government to immediately review the law and put a stop to some of the world’s most remarkable, but often deadly, creatures being kept as ‘pets’ in unsuitable captive conditions.
Research from the international wildlife charity revealed that local authorities in Buckinghamshire granted licences for over 250 dangerous wild animals residing in the area.
Among the animals being kept for pets in Bucks are: savannah cats, ostriches and sitatungas. These animals are obtained through Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) Act licences and more notorious animals are being kept privately in other parts of the UK. This includes: 158 crocodilians, 508 venomous snakes and 332 scorpions.
Other species on the DWA list that are being kept as pets or in private collections in the UK include zebras, camels, fossa (a kind of civet), hyaena, sun bears, wolves, and otters.
Dr Mark Jones, Veterinarian and Born Free’s head of policy, states: "Since the millennium the wild animal welfare and conservation charity has seen a dramatic increase in the number of exotic pets in private ownership, including a 94% increase in the number of venomous snakes, 57% increase in wild cats, 198% increase in crocodilians and over a 2000% increase in scorpions.
"However, these figures are likely to represent only the tip of the iceberg. They only record those animals being kept and registered with a DWA licence. Born Free believes that many additional dangerous wild animals are being kept without a licence.”
Currently, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, anyone in Britain can keep a dangerous wild animal as long as they obtain a licence from their Local Authority. The licencing process requires the applicant to demonstrate that their animals are properly contained so as to prevent escape and protect the public. The charity believes more needs to be done to ensure the welfare of the animals or the protection of the owner or anyone else visiting the property.
The act has not been reviewed substantially for more than 40 years. This means, for example, that species such as Komodo dragons, other large monitors, and large constrictor snakes are not included on the schedule, despite the fact that they could pose a serious risk to their owners, and to members of the public, should they escape.
There is long-standing concern about widespread non-compliance with the Act, especially with respect to venomous reptiles and invertebrates.
Dr Mark Jones commented: “It is unbelievable that, in this day and age, so many dangerous animals, including big cats, large primates, crocodiles and venomous snakes, are in private ownership in the UK.
"Increasing demand for all kinds of wild animals as exotic pets puts owners and the wider public at risk of injury or disease. It also results in serious animal suffering, and the demand increases the pressure on many wild populations which are often already under threat.”
Just last year a hybrid Savannah cat escaped in Hampstead, London, while a seven-foot-long Boa constrictor appeared in someone’s back garden and then turned on its rescuer biting his hand and wrapping itself around his wrist on the Isle of Sheppey. There have been other horror stories where a woman was bitten in the eye by a python at Mayfair club and almost blinded, while a man in Hampshire was killed by his 8ft African rock python.
Mark continued: “The UK likes to claim to be at the forefront of efforts to protect nature and improve the welfare of animals, yet our legislation governing the keeping of and trade in exotic pets is woefully outdated.
"While the Government’s recent proposal to ban the keeping of and trade in primates as pets is a welcome first step, there are many other species that need to be protected from this form of exploitation. The Dangerous Wild Animals Act should be overhauled as a matter of urgency, in order to phase-out the private keeping of and trade in those species that clearly don’t belong in people’s homes.”