Wild animals including lions, tigers, crocodiles, rattlesnakes and zebras are being kept legally on private property across the UK, figures have revealed.

More than 100 councils have issued licences to people who keep undomesticated animals at home, a freedom of information request by the Press Association news agency found.

It also showed more than 300 cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes are being kept.

Animal welfare experts have expressed concern at the findings.

The FOI found:

  • Licences for pumas, lynxes, ocelots, lemurs, vipers, ostriches and an assortment of wild cats have been issued in Cornwall
  • Wolves, alligators, caiman crocodiles, black widow spiders, venomous snakes and short-clawed otters are being kept in Central Bedfordshire
  • Cannock Chase Council has issued licences for three tigers and two lions
  • Among the most popular dangerous pets are lemurs, a small primate, 115 of which are kept in domestic settings
  • 15 wolves are registered at UK addresses
  • 412 bison and more than 2,000 wild boar live in private fields in the UK, along with a score of zebras

Dangerous wild animals licences are required to keep animals that are considered to be wild, dangerous or exotic.

These are granted by councils, provided requisite safety measures at the owner’s home are met and a fee is paid.

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.

Iain Newby, who runs a wild animal rescue facility from his home in Little Wakering, Essex, told BBC Radio 5 live: “I can understand people’s fascination with a lot of these animals, I keep servals myself – African cats.

“A lot of these animals I do believe should never be pets, they should be – if they are rare or if they are endangered – in proper breeding groups to keep the populations.

“But there are certain animals that are kept as pets, have been kept as pets for a long time, are bred in captivity, such as the servals.”

Source: Wild animals at UK homes include lions, zebras and crocodiles – BBC News