Wild boar, a dwarf caiman, ostriches and ring-tailed lemurs are among the dangerous animals being kept on private properties in Cheshire, figures have revealed.
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.
An investigation by the Press Association has revealed that more than 100 councils across the UK have given people licences to keep a host of deadly predators, with some keeping a variety of different species at their homes.
Across the UK, big cats including 13 tigers, two lions, eight leopards, seven cheetahs and nine pumas are prowling behind the fences of some addresses, while hundreds of poisonous snakes are also being kept.
But there are no big cats or snakes in Cheshire.
The list for Cheshire West and Chester shows that there are 20 wild boar, three lechwe, one nilgai, one dwarf caiman, four ostriches and two ring-tailed lemurs being kept here.
Animal welfare experts condemned the investigation’s overall findings, saying it was ‘deeply concerned’ at the numbers and that animal welfare was being put at risk.
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.
Related story: Rare monkey born at Chester Zoo
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.”
The data was obtained from freedom of information requests sent to every council in the UK, of which 363 replied.
DWA licences are also issued to properties where animals may be receiving care after being rescued, or living at small private farms, where people keep wild beasts for breeding purposes.
This means that as well as inhabiting garden enclosures, exotic wildlife also grazes on the greens of the British countryside, with 412 bison and more than 2,000 wild boar living in private fields, along with a score of zebras.