A Serval wild cat is being kept in Scotland
A Serval wild cat is being kept in Scotland

Nearly 500 dangerous wild animals living in Scotland

Forget the neighbour’s dogs and cats – some of the world’s most dangerous wild animals are living at private addresses in Scotland.

From deadly snakes and crocodiles, to lions, leopards, bears and even an elephant, a new survey has revealed that nearly 5000 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept right here in Britain.

A survey conducted by the Born Free Foundation has revealed that 4798 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept in Great Britain – 496 of which are living in Scotland.

Now the international wildlife charity is petitioning 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 in kept in unsuitable environments.

Whilst an estimated 11 million people own a pet in the UK, Born Free’s research asked every local council across England, Scotland and Wales which dangerous wild animals are currently licenced to be kept in private hands.

In Scotland, Clackmannanshire Council, Scottish Borders Council, South Ayrshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, East Ayrshire Council, Perth and Kinross Council, The Highland Council, East Lothian Council, Fife Council, North Lanarkshire Council and the Moray Council, revealed that among the 496 dangerous wild animals that reside in the area, there are at least:

21 cats including Servals, Caracals and F1 Savannahs; 14 crocodiles such as the Broad Snouted Caiman, Nile Crocodiles and the American Alligator; 12 snakes among them Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Death Adders and Gaboon Vipers; 20 primates including Ring-tailed Lemurs and Black and White Ruffed Lemurs; 10 bison; 407 wild boars; One zebra; Six Przewalski horses; Four beaded lizards; and one ostrich.

A Serval wild cat is being kept in Scotland

Shockingly, the entire survey revealed that a total of 218 private addresses are hosting dangerous wild animals across Britain.

These include:

At least 250 wild cats, such as servals and lynx and including 50 big cats – lions, tigers, leopards, pumas and cheetahs; Over 100 venomous lizards, such as Mexican beaded lizards and Gila monsters; At least 240 primates, particularly ring tailed lemurs and capuchins; Over 85 crocodilians, mostly caimans; At least 650 venomous snakes, including puff adders, black mambas and diamondback rattlesnakes.

In Wales, there is an elephant licensed to be privately kept, and in England a giraffe, as well as 14 wolves, three bears, 13 leopards, three cheetahs, nine lions and nine tigers.

Other species being kept as pets or in private collections in the UK included zebras, camels, fossas, antelope and otters.

Currently, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, anyone in Britain can keep a dangerous wild animal as long as they obtain a licence from their local authority. The licence application merely requires them to demonstrate that their animals are properly contained and not at risk of escape.

Born Free is calling for a review of the legislation covering the keeping of wild animals as pets, including the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and calling for more restrictions on the ownership of dangerous wild animals.

A zebra can be seen from the road in South Ayrshire

This includes the need for consideration of large constrictor snakes, which do not currently require a licence to be kept. Moreover, it is thought that many more wild animals are being kept unlicensed and illegally across the country.

Confining wild animals in domestic settings is not only cruel, says Born Free, but can also pose a significant risk to human life.

Just last year a man in Hampshire was killed by his 8ft African rock python, Tiny. In a separate incident, police found an illegally-kept 4ft caiman crocodile and 16 snakes at a property in Essex, nine of which were classed as dangerous. They included cobras and copperhead vipers. Seven other snakes were found dead in the house as a result of the poor conditions in which they had been kept.

Whilst the survey includes those establishments and companies that require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence to rescue animals, for animals such as wild boar and ostriches on farms, and those who use animals for TV and film, it is still understood that a large proportion of the dangerous wild animals are being kept as personal pets.

Dr Chris Draper, head of animal welfare and captivity for Born Free, said: ‘The keeping of wild animals as pets is a growing concern. The widespread use of the internet has made it easier than ever to “order” or purchase a wild animal without clarification as to where it has come from or how it should be cared for.

‘Wild animals are particularly vulnerable to welfare problems because of their complex social, physical and behavioural needs. They require specific housing conditions, dietary requirements, and furthermore, the safety risk these animals pose to their owners and the wider public should not be ignored.’

To find out what dangerous animals are living in other counties across the UK you can use Born Free’s interactive map on their website HERE.

To sign Born Free’s petition for government to review the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 click HERE.