- Citizens who own an exotic pet will now face fines and jail sentences
- Cheetahs, tigers and lions are considered a status symbol across the region
(CNN)Cheetahs, tigers and lions have infamously become a status symbol in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE).
But now wealthy citizens taming such wild animals to keep as pets face a $136,000 (700,000 Dirham) fine or jail.
After years of pressure from animal welfare groups, the Gulf country has passed a law banning the private ownership and trade of wild and dangerous animals.
Anyone seen in public walking their exotic pet -- taking a tiger for a stroll may sound ludicrous, but is not unheard of in the UAE -- will have the animal confiscated and could face up to six months in jail, according to a copy of the law obtained by CNN.
Ronel Barcellos, manager of the Abu Dhabi Wildlife Center, told CNN: "The UAE has come a long way ... I am happy to see that the law has been passed, but steps need to be taken to ensure that it is implemented properly."
The new law is effective immediately and owners are required to hand over their pets to the authorities.