Animal

Can you have a pet tiger in the UK – which animals are illegal to own?


Could this big cat become your new feline friend? (Picture: Getty)

If you loved the incredible Tiger King documentary on Netflix last year then you are in for a treat.

On ITV tonight (Tuesday, March 30, 9pm), Ross Kemp brings us a two-part series on people in Britain who keep dangerous wild animals as pets.

He’ll be asking them why they would want to own such creatures – and whether it is in the animals’ best interests to do so.

But what are the rules regarding keeping pet tigers in the UK?

Can you have a pet tiger in the UK?

It is illegal to keep a pet tiger or any wild animal in the UK as a pet without a license.

Under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 ‘no person shall keep any dangerous wild animal except under the authority of a licence granted in accordance with the provisions of this Act by a local authority.’

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While standard pets such as cats and dogs are common, according to the law, you need a licence to keep some animals, including:

  • Wild cats
  • Primates
  • Wild dogs, eg wolves
  • Certain pigs, eg wild boar
  • Marsupials

A full list of the animals you need a license for to own can be found under The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 here.

You can apply to your local council for a licence to keep a wild animal.

Ross Kemp visits Britain’s own Tiger Kings in a two-part documentary (Picture: Honey Bee Media/ ITV)

But there are several factors the local council will take into account before granting an owner a license to keep a wild animal as a pet.

All owners must satisfy the council’s needs when it comes to the animal’s safety, the public’s safety and the living conditions in which it would live.

The Act states the ‘accommodation which secures that the animal will not escape, which is suitable as regards construction, size, temperature, lighting, ventilation, drainage and cleanliness and which is suitable for the number of animals proposed to be held in the accommodation’.

They must also be supplied with ‘adequate and suitable food, drink and bedding material and be visited at suitable intervals.’

Which animals are illegal to own in the UK?

Some animals are totally banned in the UK, and you cannot get a license from them.

This includes the following dog breeds:

  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro

In 2016, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) drew up a list of 37 banned invasive species.

This includes raccoons, mongooses and muntjac deer.

The full list of banned animals can be found on the European Commission website.

Britain’s Tiger Kings – On the Trail with Ross Kemp airs tonight at 9pm on ITV.


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