A study published on 22nd February 2024 by the UK animal welfare and conservation organisation the Born Free Foundation found that more than 2,700 dangerous wild animals were privately kept in Great Britain in 2023. These animals, under licences permitted by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, include more than 200 wild cats, 250 primates and 400 venomous snakes.

Among the wild animals kept legally in people’s homes are bush vipers in Bedfordshire, cheetahs in Cheshire, caimans in Kent and lynxes in Lincolnshire. The keeping of such animals threatens the safety of people and other animals. It causes considerable suffering as these wild animals have complex physical, psychological, nutritional, social, and environmental needs that cannot be met by life in captivity.

Dr Mark Jones, Born Free’s Head of Policy said, “It is unbelievable that, in this day and age, so many dangerous animals, including big cats, large primates, crocodiles and venomous snakes, continue to be legally kept in people’s homes in the UK. Increasing demand for and trade in 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. 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and improve the welfare of animals, yet our legislation governing the keeping of and trade in exotic pets is woefully outdated. The Dangerous Wild Animals Act should be overhauled as a matter of urgency, in order to phase out the private keeping of those species that clearly don’t belong in people’s homes.”

As a result of its findings, Born Free is calling on the UK government to review the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. The charity is asking the public to join them in campaigning for change by writing to their local MP using a form on their website to demand improved regulation that will ensure far greater restrictions on the trade in, and keeping of, wild animals as ‘pets’ in the UK. They fall short of asking for a ba of keeping exotic pets, which is what most animal rights organisations and ethical vegans would be calling for

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.