Bison and wild boar – wild animals kept as pets near you

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Tens of thousands of exotic animals are kept by individuals across the UK according to data published by wildlife charity Born Free

The range of species kept as pets has increased dramatically over the past few decades.

In theory, anyone can keep any animal species, although some restrictions may be imposed by legislation relating to endangered species and/or human threat status.

For example, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (DWA) requires licensing of any animal on its list of dangerous species, such as big cats, bears and poisonous snakes.

Currently, the only such animals recorded by Born Free as being held in Gwent are in Monmouthshire, where 10 bison and eight ostriches have been recorded.

Born Free says it’s likely these animals are kept for agricultural purposes.

Further afield in Bridgend, Born Free have registered 400 bred wild boar which they say may be in similar circumstances.

Chris Lewis, Head of Captive Research at Born Free, said: “It would be fair to assume that any wild boar, bison or ostrich kept in large numbers would be for agricultural purposes, but the names and addresses of license holders are not shown. not disclosed by local authorities in freedom of information requests, so we’re not doing it for good.”

However, in Powys there is evidence that a serval is kept as a pet.

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A serval is a kind of African wild cat that stands about two feet tall, three feet long, and can run at speeds of up to 40 mph.

Servals are also used to breed with domestic cats to produce what is called a “savannah cat”. First generation Savannah cats require a DWA license.

Born Free is working with Wild Heart Animal Sanctuary, Isle of Wight, to eradicate the practice.

Wild Heart states on its website: “Driven by the social media-fueled ‘designer pet’ trade, the breeding of exotic felines and domestic cats (known as F1 hybrids) should have no place in the world. 21st century.

“It’s no less cruel than raising a wolf with a poodle.”

Mr Lewis said: “There are inherent animal welfare issues and risks to human health and safety associated with the keeping of dangerous wild animals by private individuals.

“Our current outdated laws do not protect animals or the public and are in urgent need of reform.

“This, coupled with the wider trade and keeping of exotic pets in the UK, poses significant risks to animal welfare, species conservation, animal and human health and environmental integrity.

“We urge the UK government to undertake a comprehensive review of the trade and keeping of exotic pets.”

To see the interactive map, which lets you know which animals are held by local authorities, visit bornfree.org.uk/dwamap

For more information about Born Free and how you can support their work, visit bornfree.org.uk/dangerous-wild-animals

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