Exotic Animal Sightings in the UKKeith
More than 10,000 exotic animals sighted in UK in six years up to 2006.
More than 10,000 sightings of wild and exotic animals have been reported in the UK since 2000 and the figure is set to grow, according to a study.
It appears there are more wild animals on the loose than ever before, including 5,931 big cats, 332 wild boars and 3,389 sharks.
The British Big Cat Society has reported a dramatic increase in big cat sightings in recent years, with 2004-5 figures already up 3.5 per cent on the previous year’s study.
As a result of climate change, zoo thefts and animal escapes, it is no longer uncommon to see wild animals such as panthers, leopards, snakes and racoons in the UK, experts claim.
Animal sightings since 2000 also include 51 wallabies, 43 snakes, 15 owls, 13 dangerous spiders including a tarantula and a Black Widow, 13 racoons, 10 crocodiles, seven wolves, four eagles, three pandas, two scorpions, and one penguin.
Chris Mullins, founder and co-ordinator of Beastwatch UK, who compiled the data, said: “Beastwatch UK was founded in 2001 and we now have many members as well as people with just an interest who report and look out for wild animals across the UK.
“Since the start of our organisation the number of reports has increased at a rapid rate, including monkeys stolen from zoos and private collections to colonies of wallabies and wild boar and more unusual reports such as a chinchilla found in a post box, to a piranha in the Thames.
Climate change is one of the many reasons animals are able to live in the wild and, conversely, one of the reasons that these animals are in danger.
Changing winds can cause damage to animal enclosures that can lead to animals escaping into the wild, while changing temperatures allow the animals to survive in new areas for longer.
Climate change also affects breeding habits, with statistics from last year showing that 63 per cent of birds nested on average nine days earlier than normal.
The south-west is the big cat hot-spot, with Devon, Cornwall and Somerset among the top 10 counties.
More than one hundred wild boars can be found inhabiting Kent and East Sussex, while Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire have a large population of wallabies, with nearly 30 sighted in recent years.
Wild inhabitants of Leicestershire include numerous racoons and Oban in Scotland is home to several monkeys.
Beastwatch said that not only are these wild animals taking over the country, but they are also getting up to some crazy things.
Last year, a deer was seen swimming a mile and a half across a busy shipping lane in Hampshire, apparently in search of pastures new, and this month a family of squirrels caused chaos when they shorted a power cable in Exeter cutting the power for 10,380 homes.
Earlier this year an African tawny eagle escaped from her new home in Reading and flew 200 miles back to her original owner’s home in North Yorkshire.
Around the same time a family fled their home in terror when they opened their new TV to find a hissing python in the box.
Then there is the story of Britain’s two most famous pigs, the Tamworth Two, who escaped from an abattoir, making their escape across the fields of Wiltshire.
Carolyn Spivey, senior brand manager at Disney – which has released a DVD called The Wild and teamed up with leading conservation organisations to look at the number of wild animals at large in the UK – said the organisation was thrilled to be part of this research and was completely overwhelmed by the statistics.
“We were fascinated to discover that wild animals across Britain can live with humans and seem to show the same types of behaviour as the characters in The Wild,” she said.