Wild animals kept in captivity in Cornwall


Cornwall has 140 wild animals bred in captivity under license – the most of any south west county, a new survey shows.

Research by wildlife charity Born Free looked at the number of Dangerous Wild Animals Act (DWA) licenses granted by local authorities across the country and the variety of species held privately.

In the South West, Cornwall is the county with the highest number of animals kept in captivity at 140.

Of these 140 wild animals kept in captivity, the majority are big cats, including six clouded leopards, six cheetahs, two leopards, two pumas, two snow leopards, seven lnyx, five fossa, one ocelot, two fishing cats, 13 servals and two jaguarundis. .

There are 10 Saki monkeys in captivity and even two pygmy hippos.

A Saki with a golden face

Wiltshire has the second highest number of wild animals in captivity at 97.

In Devon there are only 28 registered wild animals.

Data from Born Free shows that in 2020, a total of 210 DWA licenses were granted for keeping 3,951 wild animals, including 320 wild cats (including 61 big cats – 11 lions, eight tigers, 11 leopards, 18 pumas , 10 cheetahs, two ligers and a jaguar) and 274 primates (including more than 150 lemurs).

Born Free Veterinarian and Policy Officer Dr Mark Jones said: “Born Free has been collecting and analyzing DWA data for over 20 years.

Falmouth Packet: a pygmy hippopotamusA pygmy hippopotamus

“Since the millennium, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of exotic pets owned by individuals, including a 94% increase in poisonous snakes, a 57% increase in feral cats, a 198% increase in crocodilians and over a 2,000% increase in scorpions.

“However, these numbers are probably just the tip of the iceberg. They only record animals that are owned and registered with a DWA license.

“Born Free believes many other dangerous wild animals are kept without permits.”

Currently, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, anyone in Britain can keep a dangerous wild animal as long as they obtain a license from their local authority.

The licensing process requires the applicant to demonstrate that their animals are properly contained to prevent escape and protect the public, but this does little to ensure the welfare of the animals or the protection of the owner or any other person visiting the property.

Falmouth Packet: A cheetahA cheetah

Dr Jones said: ‘It is unbelievable that in our time so many dangerous animals, including big cats, large primates, crocodiles and poisonous snakes, are held privately in the UK.

“The growing demand for all kinds of wild animals as exotic pets puts owners and the general public at risk of injury or illness.

“It also leads to severe animal suffering, and the demand increases pressure on many wild populations that are often already under threat.”

Born Free is calling on the UK government to undertake a comprehensive review of current dangerous wildlife legislation and has launched a petition (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/581252) with the RSPCA calling for legislative reform.


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