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Pet cheetah in parking lot catches onlookers by surprise

Big cat walking around with owner causes a commotion in Media City

  • By Jay Hilotin, Chief Reporter, XPRESS
  • Published: 11:11 September 12, 2011

  • Image Credit: Supplied image
  • A cheetah has been spotted at Media City in Dubai. Further details to come

Dubai: How about a cheetah for a pet?

That's what an unknown owner showed when he walked around with the world's fastest animal on a leash at the Dubai Media City on Wednesday evening.

The sight of the big cat prancing around caused a commotion among people who spotted it outside the OSN Showtime building, just after 6pm.

"The cheetah was walking about the parking lot for about 20 minutes, being held on a leash by a man who was keen to show it off," said Jane, an expatriate who works at the Media City. Many onlookers on their way home, double-parked their vehicles to have a closer look at the surreal spectacle.

"Initially, I thought there was an accident. When they realised what was going on, people started crowding around. Where in your life can you ever have a cheetah for a pet? It was beautiful — too docile. It seemed very domesticated. I saw people petting it," said Jane, who took pictures of the animal.


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"But when a car jam-braked nearby, the animal got agitated and restless."

After a while, the owner just picked it up and put it inside his white Porsche Cayenne.

Dr Reza Khan, an expert at the Dubai Zoo, has identified the animal as a sub-adult African cheetah, probably less than 12 months old. He wondered how the cheetah, an endangered species, landed in private hands in Dubai.

"Cheetah is on the list of endangered animals as per IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List and in Cites (Convention on the International Trade of Endagered Specicies) Appendix I," he said.

‘Cannot be traded'

"So, it cannot be traded and procured from any country without a Cites permit," said Dr Khan, a member of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas.

"No wild animal should be kept on leash and be walked through public places. Wild cats are dangerous to the public … Wildlife is always best in its natural habitats, not in human company," he said.


Cheetah is considered to be a dying breed of cat because almost all the cheetahs alive today have come out of a small gene pool and through too much in-breeding.

As a species, its genetic base is too narrow and few survive in nature.

Comments (10)

Share your views
  1. Added 16:30 September 12, 2011

    "He wondered how the cheetah, an endangered species, landed in private hands in Dubai." Seriously? Go to the animal market in Sharjah, all kind of exotic animails are there for sale and nobody is willing to do anything about it. It is well known that many people in the UAE keep big cats.

    mike, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:58 September 12, 2011

    That is a wild animal... it needs to be free and kept on a leash! Someone should have called the cops instead of staring at the cheetah......jeeeeezzz when will people learn that no matter how docile or domesticated these guys are, they deserve to be in the wild or at least in a sanctuary and not paraded around at the end of a leash for people to stare and gawk at! This makes me so angry! People in the UAE really need to wake up and do something about animal rights!....It's awful!

    Jamal, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 15:38 September 12, 2011

    I think that the irresponsible owner should be fined and jailed for his careless attitude and for creating panic. My humble request is to investigate the matter thoroughly.

    Salman Khan, ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 15:33 September 12, 2011

    Authorities shoud ban not only cheetah but also some types of dog as well.

    shaReef, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 15:26 September 12, 2011


    HARI, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 15:10 September 12, 2011

    Whatever it is, it's so cute :-) but yes I agree that it shoul be kept in its natural habitat.

    Fatima Zahra Khan, Abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 15:07 September 12, 2011

    So can we see the owners face in tomorrow's newspaper?

    Huzefa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 14:41 September 12, 2011

    In Kerala, India, as pert of Onam celebrations we have "Puli Kali" (Tiget Show). Was this man trying Puli Kali in Dubai!!

    Thomas, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 14:37 September 12, 2011

    It is common knowledge amongst locals and expats alike that people keep endangered animals as 'pets' in the UAE; some people even boast of it. I've been told that it is quite easy to obtain these animals and often, friends will buy their baby animals at the same time because they are 'cute'. The 'owners' are not educated on the dangers of keeping such wild animals in captivity and believe they can be domesticated like regular cats. Surely the authorities are aware of this illegal trade? Action must be taken to stop this trade in wild animals and these beautiful creatures must be set free in their natural habitats.

    Charlie, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 14:17 September 12, 2011

    I am not surprized reading about this, The laws are meant to be brokern by the rich and famous as they can get away with almost everything. It is said education makes people wiser; I really wonder what do these people use it for. I wish and hope that the lawmakers make and implement strict laws so that people stop buying these innocent animals as showpieces.

    Shilpa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates