In it Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai is playing with what appears to be his pet white tiger cub.
The video clip below shows the prince “nuzzling” the baby tiger cub who looks to be returning his owner’s affection. The prince was quoted as saying that he has a “strong spiritual connection” to animals, especially horses. It was posted October 17 and has created a viral following.
Sheikh Hamdan’s father is the current ruler of Dubai.
Where do these pets come from? Ofir Drori from LAGA, an organization in Africa that rescues wild animals from poachers says most of them are smuggled into the Middle East via private jets. While there are laws in some Arab states about owning wild life privately, these laws are apparently not enforced, or relevant if you are the prince.
Drori tells Green Prophet that there are live wild animals found all over the world, and about 3000 big cats living in private houses. “The Middle East does have a big demand for felines and live animals in general,” he says. There you can find trade even with apes. “They laugh at it and feel like a hero – yes, this is it. They keep exotic animals to dazzle their visitors – and for the rich and bored, they might even have a black leopard.”
We see animal abuse stories in the Middle East all the time. We’ve given a lot of attention to endangered big cats being kept as pets in Arabian Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates where wild animal “pets” are still commonplace.
While these animals may seem cute for now, problems arise when these cute little baby cubs get larger. Other stories coming from the Gulf show the down-side of keeping a big cat as a pet. An article that appeared UAE’s The National expressed the dangers of keeping such animals when they become older.
Meyer de Kock, manager of the Al Bustan Zoogical Center in Abu Dhabi, was quoted as saying: “Cheetahs, lions and tigers have very specific needs. They are very cute when they are small but when they grow up they are very dangerous.”
De Kock added that he is very concerned about where these baby cats come from as they are often the result of the mothers being killed in the wild so their cubs can be stolen and sold as pets.
The best solution is to enforce stricter laws dealing with the capture and sale of wild animals like big cats for pets.
Meanwhile, the practice still continues, with some rare lions and tigers fetching as much as $50,000 on the black market.
Here’s a photo of the prince’s sister with a tiger cub from a home movie of her with animals:
Click on the entire video below:
We’d like discourage everyone from owning wild animals as pets – no matter how rich or affluent you might be. Thanks to an anonymous Dubai-based reader for this tip.
Images via screengrabs of the Prince’s home movie