“It is… time for people to realize that having a big cat in their household does not make them ‘cool.’ Rather, they risk being called animal abusers and are putting their own lives at risk.”
–Ayesha Almazroui, columnist for UAE-based the National, in an opinion piece criticizing a new trend in which Khaleejis upload photos of themselves and their exotic pets to Instagram.
According to Almazroui, it is legal to keep exotic pets such as cheetahs, cougars, jaguars, leopards, black panthers, lions and yellow and white tiger cubs in Abu Dhabi with a license, but many people buy animals without applying for the proper permission.
“The question is not just how many of these pets are legal, it is also why having such animals can be permitted, despite all the potentially negative consequences for both the animals and their owners.”
Those consequences include danger to owners and neighbors, and the environmental impact on migrating often endangered animals out of their natural habitats.
Keeping wild animals as pets is illegal under Qatari law, but complaints have been on the rise about residents owning lions, tigers and other dangerous animals and treating them as pets in their homes.
Despite the illegality of their actions, many owners choose to flout their pets, driving them around Qatar and showing them off to passers by, a spectacle witnessed by the expats who took this video a few years ago:
More recently, in January of this year, a cheetah was apparently sold via Qatar Living for some QR35,000 – a little less than the asking price of QR40,000.