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There are 24 dangerous wild animals being kept as pets in Surrey under private ownership licences including crocodiles and various venomous snakes and lizards. This is according to a national survey from animal charity Born Free that found evidence of 2,727 licensed animals in 2023 that range from wild cats to primates.

Born Free has since called for urgent action to tighten legislation and claimed there are 10 times more deadly venomous snakes kept in British homes than in zoos. The charity added it is greatly concerned by the figures because keeping these animals is a threat to public safety and can lead to considerable suffering for the animals themselves.

Born Free’s head of policy, Dr Mark Jones, said: “It is unbelievable that, in this day and age, so many dangerous animals, including big cats, large primates, crocodiles and venomous snakes, continue to be legally kept in people’s homes in the UK.” He continued: “Increasing demand for and trade in all kinds of wild animals as exotic pets puts owners and the wider public at risk of injury or disease. It also results in serious animal suffering.

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There are 24 dangerous wild animals licensed for private ownership in Surrey(Image: Born Free)

“The UK likes to claim to be at the forefront of efforts to protect nature and improve the welfare of animals, yet our legislation governing the keeping of and trade in exotic pets is woefully outdated. The Dangerous Wild Animals Act should be overhauled as a matter of urgency, in order to phase out the private keeping of those species that clearly don’t belong in people’s homes.”

The Mole Valley district accounts for the majority of dangerous animals being kept in Surrey with 20 of the county’s 24 licences. This includes 10 Gila Monsters and four Mexican Bearded Lizards, as well as Nose-Horned, Transcaucasian Long-Nosed, and Caucasus Vipers.

There are two Dwarf Crocodiles in the Reigate and Banstead area and a Savannah Cat and a Serval in Elmbridge. Born Free continued that it was disturbed to discover some councils in the country are unaware of the exact species being kept and said once hybridised animals produce offspring a Dangerous Wild Animals licence is not required.

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