Lions, Crocodiles and Wolves Among Wild Animals Kept in UK Homes
Wild animals such as lions, crocodiles and wolves are among thousands that are being kept legally in private properties in the UK, figures revealed.
Over 100 councils have granted people with licenses to keep these dangerous predators. Some are even keeping a variety of other species in their homes.
The figures were sourced from freedom of information requests sent to all councils in the UK, while Northern Ireland figures were given by the Environment Agency, according to a report from The Guardian.
The dangerous wild animals (DWA) licenses allow people to keep undomesticated animals as pets, provided they follow all necessary safety measures in their properties and pay a small fee.
These animals are being kept in several major cities, including London, Swansea, Stoke, Sheffield, Hull and Portsmouth.
Other animals being kept in the menageries are tigers, leopards, cheetahs and pumas. There are also hundreds of poisonous snakes, including over 300 killer cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes, and reptiles such as caimans and alligators.
In other places, licenses had been issued for pumas, lynxes, ocelots, lemurs, ostriches and several types of wild cats.
The DWA licenses are also issued to properties for temporary shelters after an animal has been rescued, as well as to small private farms where people keep wild animals for breeding purposes.
This means that apart from garden enclosures in urban homes, there are also wild animals on the British countryside, where 412 bison, over 2,000 wild boar and a score of zebras are running freely in private fields.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), however, is concerned that the licenses often focus on public safety rather than the wellbeing of the animals.
In an article in BBC, an RSPCA spokeswoman said: "People may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep and the animals are sometimes neglected when the novelty wears off and the commitment hits home.
"This is why we would encourage anyone thinking of getting an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal's needs and whether they're a realistic pet," added the spokeswoman in the same article.