DUBAI: One of the world’s most influential animal rights charities has launched a new campaign to help stamp out a dramatic rise in the illegal wild animal trade in the UAE. But this time, it’s not baby tigers with diamante earrings that are the main focus of attention, but the latest endangered exotic pet trend – blue whales.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of blue whales being smuggled into the UAE and now residing in homes across the country,” World Wrestling Federation regional spokesman Dr Sal Amander told The Pan-Arabia Enquirer, speaking at the launch of the organisation’s new Free Willy campaign in Dubai this morning.
Dr Amander claimed that the surge in blue whales’ popularity had partially arisen from the “over saturation” in the market of exotic pets now considered common, such as African big cats, but also because of blue whale’s coveted ‘world’s biggest’ status.
Dr Amander said that with the help of local activists, the WWF had helped secure the release of eight blue whales living in captivity across the UAE.
“But we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve heard numbers of at least 400 of these majestic mammals being held in captivity in villas and flats around the emirates.”
And she issued a stark warning to blue whale owners or anyone thinking of acquiring such an animal.
“It doesn’t matter how much you genuinely believe that you love and care for these creatures, the climate of the UAE and the basic facilities of most homes here are simply unsuitable for the health and wellbeing of blue whales,” she said.
“They may be cute and cuddly as baby calves, but once fully-grown they can reach up to 30 metres in length and need around 3,600 kilograms of krill each day to survive. And then of course there’s the issue of water, which most private swimming pools can’t accommodate.”