DOZENS of dangerous wild animals are privately owned by people in Denbighshire, new figures show.

Wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation said improved regulation is needed, after its research found thousands of wild animals are owned privately across the UK.

Figures obtained by the charity from freedom of information requests sent to councils reveal there are 31 mammals covered by dangerous wild animal licences in Denbighshire.

The licences are for a spider monkey and 30 bison.

Chris Lewis, Born Free's captivity research officer, said: "The Dangerous Wild Animals Act was intended to make the keeping of such animals categorised as 'dangerous' a wholly exceptional circumstance.

"However, Born Free’s ongoing research paints a very different picture."

He added regulations on the keeping and trading of wild animals kept as pets are "in urgent need of review".

Across Great Britain, the charity found over 2,700 dangerous wild animals were licenced to be owned privately. They include more than 200 wild cats and 250 primates.

It estimates there are also 400 venomous snakes "kept in British homes", more than 10 times the number in zoos.

Wales was home to the only elephants being kept under this type of licence in Britain.

Mr Lewis added regulations on the keeping and trading of wild animals kept as pets are "in urgent need of review".

Dr Mark Jones, the charity’s head of policy said: "It is unbelievable that, in this day and age, so many dangerous animals, including big cats, large primates, crocodiles and venomous snakes, continue to be legally kept in people’s homes in the UK.

"Increasing demand for and trade in all kinds of wild animals as exotic pets puts owners and the wider public at risk of injury or disease.

"It also results in serious animal suffering, and the demand increases the pressure on many wild populations which are often already under threat."

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson said anyone wishing to keep an animal under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act must be vetted and apply for a licence which sets out conditions on caring for the animal.