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Dangerous animals to be banned as pets in Malta

TigerNew rules to be issued by the Ministry of Environment in Malta will make it illegal to keep certain dangerous animals, particularly wild animals, as pets, while other creatures will be strictly regulated.

This was announced by George Pullicino, the Minister responsible for animal welfare. Animals such as crocodiles, large felines and poisonous snakes - among them Cobras and the small but deadly Mambas - will be banned outright under proposed legislation being drawn up.

Max Farrugia, chairman of International Animal Rescue in Malta and council member of ENDCAP, the organisation in Europe working to end the keeping of wildlife in captivity, said that International Animal Rescue had been asking for such amendments for a number of years. IAR had recently had talks about this issue with Dr Mario Spiteri, Director of Animal Welfare in Malta. Apart from the danger of keeping such animals in captivity, there is also the matter of the suffering this causesl. Farrugia explained that on several occasions his organisation had been called in to help capture monkeys that had escaped from their owners, one of them next to a school. Earlier this month, residents in Mosta, a densely poplulated town in central Malta, were worried when they discovered that one of the residents in the area was keeping a Bengal Tiger in captivity which, apart from being dangerous if it should escape, also belongs to an extremely rare species.

It is not yet clear how other exotic animals such as constrictor snakes, which can be dangerous when they reach a certain size, will be regulated, but inspectors within the Environment Agency are already working hard on the necessary amendments to the local Animal Welfare Act. Max Farrugia said that, as the law stands now, animals which are not listed as endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) can be kept as pets.