Wild boar, lynxes and wild African cats among dangerous animals on private properties in region
- Credit: PA
Wild boar, lynxes and African hunting dogs are among dozens of dangerous animals being kept on private properties in Suffolk and Essex, figures have revealed.
Wild cats including serval cats and jaguarundis are also prowling behind the fences of addresses in the region.
Across the country, thousands of dangerous animals, including 13 tigers, eight leopards, 10 alligators and more than 300 deadly venomous snakes, are being kept.
Animal welfare experts condemned the findings of the Press Association investigation, which obtained the data from freedom of information requests sent to every council in the UK, of which 363 replied.
Dangerous wild animals licences are granted by councils to allow people to keep undomesticated animals as pets, providing they have the requisite safety measures at their home and pay a small fee.
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In the West Suffolk councils – St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council – seven lynxes, four serval cats and three African hunting dogs were among the dangerous animals being kept.
More than 50 wild boar were also being kept in total in the Braintree and Tendring areas of north-east Essex.
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The RSPCA said it was concerned that licences too often focus on protecting the public from harm, rather than on the well-being of the animals themselves.
A spokeswoman said: “We are deeply concerned about the number of exotic animals, including dangerous wild animals, now being kept as pets.
“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.”
She added: “Licences for exotic animals classed as Dangerous Wild Animals – such as cobras, ostriches and caiman crocodiles – are granted by local authorities and the details are also held locally.
“There is no centrally-held list to determine how many are kept across the country. The emphasis of this legislation is on making sure the owner takes reasonable steps to prevent the animal from being a threat to the public, rather than the welfare of the animals concerned.
“Exotic animals have specialist needs and this includes the ones listed on the Dangerous Wild Animals Act list.”
Nationally, among the most popular dangerous pets are lemurs, a small monkey, 115 of which are kept in domestic settings, while smaller cats, which are often crosses between domestic and larger wild cats, such as Savannahs, are also in high demand.
PANEL: REGIONAL BREAKDOWN
Braintree – 15 wild boar
Mid Suffolk District Council – One serval cat
Tendring District Council –36 wild boar
West Suffolk councils (St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council) – Seven lynxes, four serval cats, two caracals, two jaguaraundis, one fishing cat, three African hunting dogs, two bobcats, one tayra.