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Wildlife charity The Born Free Foundation obtained figures through freedom of information requests to find the wild animals currently living in the country under licence in private ownership.

It’s calling for changes in the law, insisting dangerous animals are not ‘pets’ to be kept by private owners, but wild creatures that deserve protection and to live as nature intended.

In the Wee County alone, The Born Free Foundation’s data indicated that 14 such animals are being kept as pets, including two American Alligators, two Cuvier’s Caimans, two Broad-Snouted Caimans, four Spectacled Caimans and four Gila Monsters.

However, this contradicts information from Clackmannanshire Council who told the Advertiser:  “At this time, there are no current licences to keep Dangerous Wild Animals in Clackmannanshire – the last licence we issued expired in 2022.”

Caimans, of which there are allegedly eight living in Clacks, are closely related to alligators, and usually inhabit Mexico and Central and South America.

The Gila Monster is a species of venomous lizard native to the South-western United States and the north-western Mexican state of Sonora. There are reportedly four of them living in Clacks.

The American Alligator is native to South-eastern United States and is the largest species of alligator still living, with two apparently residing in the Wee County.

Dr Mark Jones, head of policy at Born Free, 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.

“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, and the demand increases the pressure on many wild populations which are often already under threat.”

The 14 exotic animals in Clacks make up just a small part of the 148 known to be living in Scotland.

This includes 11 crocodiles in Angus, four camels in Dumfries and Galloway and 31 wild boar in East Ayrshire.

The Born Free Foundation worries there could be many more wild animals being kept without a licence and have called on the UK Government to take action.

Dr Jones continued: “The UK like 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.”

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