The Illegal Big Cats of Instagram

Buying illegal wild animals in Kuwait is, as one local puts it, “as easy as acquiring a cupcake.” Pets have long been used as status symbols the world over, but citizens of the Gulf take the prize when it comes to keeping the most exotic, controversial speciesβ€”most commonly, “big cat” cubs.

International law governing Kuwait and other Gulf states forbids the import and sale of wild animals, yet the sight of supercars being driven around with a cheetah in the front seat is starting to become commonplace on Arab Instagram feeds.

Although there are legal ways to bring an animal into Kuwait, paying people off along the way is easier. Lion, cheetah, and tiger cubs are in the highest demand, fetching up to $15,000 each through black market agents. More often than not, the owners have little idea how to care for these creatures, which have no history of domestication and quickly become unmanageableβ€”even lethalβ€”once they’re fully grown.

In Big Cats of the Gulf, VICE investigates the area’s flourishing trade in animal trafficking and how it impacts the depleting wildcat populations of Central and East Africa. We gain exclusive access to Kuwait’s biggest Instagram star of the big cat phenomenon and hear first-hand of the deadly consequences of the businessβ€”both for the animals and their owners.

Watch More on VICE:
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  • Lester Smith

    I wonder if she ever realized just how incredibly lucky she was?! That was very dumb, careless and could have easily cost her life. She knew better/should have gone with instincts on that one. Yeah that was wild, but a hugely sad and short existence for the imprisoned cubs who were probably obtained through poaching. Meaning a whole pack or pride of adult lions were slaughtered to snatch the litter. Looks like they just have them delivered right to their front door. Rich people can be such dbag aholes with no respect or appreciation for anyone or anything on this earth but themselves. Wtf oh and that cheetah was nowhere near close to reaching it’s adult size. Would still be alongside a couple siblings learning from watching its mother hunt. The dude was right. In reality there’s no definite way to say any of those wild animals β€œpets” would have survived to reproduce. Given the current reality. It’s extremely brutal with the survival odds stacked up high against them, but it’s only like that from humans depleting animal habitats and populations all over the world. Shit like this I lose faith in humanity a lil more

  • Akimoto4u

    People will always have problem with everything, Shawkil has a point he’s giving some a better life and it’s their money so shut the funk of. Get rid of (yes literally) SJW’s , feminists, transshit and all those bullshit and the world will be a better place. You are offended? I’m too.

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