Jasem Ali, who runs a makeshift refuge for animals that have been rejected by their wealthy owners, explained that the cultural implications of owning a rare species as a pet are powerful and troubling. "If someone buys a very expensive animal, he is boasting that he has enough money to get anything he wants," Ali told CNN. "If he has a tamed wild animal like a lion, he is trying to show off that he is brave."
"But this is not courage," he added. "This is animal rights abuse."