The Yerevan neighbors of parliamentarian Mher Sedrakian, a member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, have a persistent problem with noise. But this is not about wild parties or car horns. Rather, it is about lions.
Sedrakian’s alleged collection of lions, apparently kept as personal pets, constantly roars and scares the neighborhood, and no one can get them to stop, his neighbors complained to EurasiaNet.org recently.
Increasingly, many Armenians can understand that concern. Private zoos with lions, tigers and bears are emerging as a popular hobby for the wealthy and powerful in this tiny, South-Caucasus country, and the government does not seem inclined to intervene.
Instead, recent amendments to the Law on Wildlife, passed on April 12, could facilitate this pastime. Private citizens can own wild animals, including endangered species, if they have areas for the animals that ensure their “life, health and safety,” and prevent escape from captivity, the law reads. Supervision is supposed to be “constant.”
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.