Dubai: The senseless killing and mutilation of a docile iguana near Safa Park has outraged neighbours in the Jumeirah 1 area and prompted Dubai animal advocacy group Friends of Animals to request authorities to open an investigation.
Dubai Police on Friday said they will investigate when they receive an official complaint.
The pregnant female iguana, which neighbours say has lived in the park area unharmed for years, was laying eggs earlier this week when it was attacked by a group of youths after they had forced the animal to the ground at the corner of 55 street and the service road along Shaikh Zayed Road at Safa Park near Gate 5.
Witnesses alleged that a man in the area at the time was also involved in the killing.
After the killing, the disembowelled body of the lizard was found hanging from a tree but it was later taken down and buried.
Incensed neighbours said the gentle green giants have always been peaceful additions to the Safa Park area.
Residents informed Montserrat Martin, founder of Friends of Animals, who has since requested a formal investigation from the Ministry of Environment and Water in Abu Dhabi on the grounds that the incident was illegal because cruelty against animals is prohibited under UAE law.
"This particular incident serves as good example of mindless cruelty to animals and can help raise awareness to prevent such behaviour,” Martin said.
“Under the UAE Criminal Code, to harm an animal for no reason is a criminal offence,” Martin told Gulf News in an interview on Friday. “These are living animals and they deserve the respect of humans.”
A former employee with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the United Kingdom, Martin said her organisation will legally pursue the matter with the proper authorities.
A resident of Shaikh Ahmed Golden Villas, meanwhile, spoke of her anger in a written account of the incident sent to Friends of Animals.
The resident was livid after her daughter witnessed the killing of the animal while on a walk with the family’s housemaid near their home.
“My daughter witnessed all those present throwing stones and rocks at the iguana,” her account said.
“It was alive and attempting to escape. One of the boys caught the animal by its tail and threw it. She saw the security guard pick up a very large rock and bring it down on the iguana. The stoning continued despite my daughter’s cries for mercy; she shouted at them repeatedly to stop. When she was ignored, she ran home for help. She arrived home extremely distraught by what she had witnessed.”
When other neighbours heard of the incident, they ran to the scene to try and intervene.
The woman said when her neighbours arrived they chased the boys away but it was too late to save the animal.
“Having lived on the edge of the park for the last 11 years, we have had several sightings of these quiet, vegetarian lizards,” the resident said.
“They have lived peacefully here for years. We guess from the evidence that she had crossed the road to lay her eggs in the sand. My family, neighbours and I cannot get over the senseless and barbaric way this poor creature died — it leaves me utterly dismayed.”
According to UAE Animal Welfare Law, it is illegal to kill any animal in a merciless way, to use slow death means or to cause the animal severe pain without any acceptable reason or rational justification, a police official told Gulf News on Friday.
Police said that the family who witnessed the killing of the animal should report it, adding that such behaviour is not acceptable.
“Anyone may report to the concerned authority about any violations of this law,” police said.
“Police, the municipality or any other concerned authorities will investigate the violations and take necessary action.”