CHEETAHS, caimans, ostriches and venomous snakes are being kept in Cheshire.

International wildlife charity Born Free has released new data exposing the number of dangerous wild animals being kept as ‘pets’ in the UK under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.l

More than 2,700 such creatures are currently licensed, including 200 wild cats and 400 venomous snakes, 10 times more than the number being kept in zoos.

With this in mind, Born Free is demanding urgent action to tighten legislation and safeguard the welfare of wild animals.

Dr Mark Jones, the charity’s head of policy, 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.

“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and improve the welfare of animals, yet our legislation governing the keeping of and trade in exotic pets is woefully outdated.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.”

Northwich Guardian: Two servals are being kept in WarringtonTwo servals are being kept in Warrington (Image: Born Free)

According to Born Free, two cheetahs and two dwarf caimans are being kept in Cheshire East while Warrington is home to two servals and a savannah cat.

Cheshire West and Chester has provided licenses for 36 wild boar, two ostriches, two ring-tailed lemurs, and two lechwe as well as a Gila monster, a beaded lizard and a spectacled caiman.

The borough is also home to the only licensed scorpions in the country, with one deathstalker and one fat tail.

On top of this are 18 dangerous snakes including cobras, rattlesnakes, vipers and copperheads.

ALSO READ: Caiman, boars and ostriches – Every wild animal being kept in Cheshire West revealed

Northwich Guardian: Two ring-tailed lemurs are kept in Cheshire West and ChesterTwo ring-tailed lemurs are kept in Cheshire West and Chester (Image: Mike Dooley)

Born Free is encouraging residents to write to their local MP demanding the legislation is reviewed, ensuring all owners have the necessary qualifications and experience, properly considers environmental concerns  and evaluates the risks such animals pose to the public

Captivity research officer, Chris Lewis, said: “The Dangerous Wild Animals Act was intended to make the keeping of such animals categorised as ‘dangerous’ a wholly exceptional circumstance.

“However, Born Free’s ongoing research paints a very different picture.

“Many members of the public will rightly be shocked to learn of so many animals being kept by private keepers.

“Yet, at its core, the act is based upon the assumption that it is possible to keep dangerous wild animals in a way that minimises or eliminates risk to the public and in a manner that meets an animal’s welfare needs.

“This has resulted in legislation being reactionary, struggling to keep pace with ever-changing scientific evidence and becoming increasingly out-of-date.

“The regulations pertaining to the keeping and trading of wild animals kept as pets are in urgent need of review.”