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Regulations governing how dangerous animals should be kept and cared for in the UAE have been approved in a bid to tackle abuse and trafficking.

In 2016, the UAE passed a law banning ownership of dangerous, wild or exotic animals except by licensed zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres.

It also revoked permits issued to other authorities to import such animals.

The Cabinet has now approved detailed regulations related to the law, with 12 articles setting the requirements for the transport of dangerous animals and their accommodation, as well as measures for their seizure, care and disposal.

Dr Susan Aylott, who established and runs Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi, welcomed the regulations. 

“It’s a great law for everybody,” said Dr Aylott. “It’s great initiative which shows that we are an animal loving nation that respects the environment and all those who live within it. We have a requirement to protect and preserve animals and humans.”

The law says dangerous animals must be provided with veterinary care, including vaccinations, and kept in a suitable environment.

Authorities will seize any animals which are stray, uncontrolled, abandoned or kept in an unlicensed environment. Any animals seized by authorities will be provided with veterinary aid, rehabilitation and returned to a suitable environment or released into a reserve in the UAE, according to the regulations.

In addition, dangerous animals must not be used in public exhibitions, competitions or shows, or advertisements without a permit from authorities.

Permission must also be sought to transfer them either inside the UAE, or while in transit through the country. The transport used must comply with requirements designed to ensure animals are cared for in a clean and ventilated environment. 

It remains legal to use dangerous animals in circuses in the UAE, provided they are licensed by Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

But the backlash against a circus, which used rare white lions in its performances showed late last year, demonstrated that many now consider the practice unacceptable.

Latino Circus, which was stationed at Dubai food truck park Last Exit D89 in December, had boasted it featured “white lions direct from Africa”.

But it later removed the lions from the show before the end of the run on the back of a request from Last Exit, which faced a barrage of complaints from people who claimed it was cruel.