Wild animal on loose in Dubai may not attack in hunger, but out of fear: Expert

Dubai - The former head of Dubai Zoo believes the creature on the prowl is a black leopard — and not a jaguar or a black panther as is being reported.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 20 May 2021, 3:29 AM

A veteran animal expert in the UAE has cautioned that the wild animal on the loose may not attack humans out of hunger — but out of fear.

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This comes after Dubai Police confirmed reports that the creature was spotted in the Springs community late on Tuesday.

Teams of Dubai Police and members of the municipality, along with animal welfare officers, have been at task to capture the animal, which has been on the prowl for over a day now.


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A veteran animal expert has explained that the elusive creature could possibly be a black leopard, which is known to be a mysterious cat. With a rare variation of the carnivore's generally spotted coat, it is said to be able to blend into the shadows and be nearly invisible in the dark.

Former head of Dubai Zoo and principal wildlife specialist at Dubai Safari and Dubai Municipality, Dr Reza Khan said, “I think it’s a black leopard — and not a jaguar or a black panther as is being reported."

The UAE does not allow such wild animals to be kept as pets unless people procure special permits, he noted. "Such animals are not affected by the heat and will not attack anyone out of hunger, but they can do so out of fear. That’s because, except for the persons who are known to the animal, everyone else are like aliens to it. Although it is illegal to keep wild animals as household pets, I believe exceptions are made for anyone who has official authorisation. ”

While the government has legislated against keeping these animals captive, many feel there should be a severe punishment if one keeps wild animals that can jeopardise the lives of others living in communities.


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In light of this, affected residents in the Springs community have been calling for tougher laws to prevent private ownership of such animals.

However, while fear and worry have gripped many, several other residents are equally concerned about the well-being of the animal that is outside of its known habitat. Taking to social media, they have been posting messages expressing deep concern for the creature.

An expat named LK said, “Hopefully, the poor thing is safe.”

Another user AC said, “Poor animal. It’s not his fault at all…Hope they have a safe rescue for him.”

“The poor animal must be getting more and more tired and frustrated,” opined AS.

“But it’s not the animal’s fault… a careless handler probably”, said another online user.

Earlier, in 2016, a young lioness escaped from her owner. She was subsequently captured by a team of Dubai Municipality animal welfare officers at the Al Barsha neighbourhood in less than three hours.

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