The brutal killing of a pregnant iguana near Safa Park in Dubai has outraged neighbours in the Jumeirah area, local daily Gulf News reported on Saturday.
The female iguana, which has lived unharmed in the park area for years, was attacked by a group of youths as she crossed the road to an area of sand opposite the park to lay her eggs.
After the stoning, the body of the lizard was found hanging from a tree, but was later taken down and buried, the report said.
Angry neighbours reported the incident to Dubai animal advocacy group, Friends of Animals, which has since requested that the police open an investigation, as cruelty against animals is prohibited under UAE law.
"This particular incident serves as good example of mindless cruelty to animals and can help raise awareness to prevent such behaviour,” Gulf News quoted Montserrat Martin, founder of Friends of Animals, as saying.
“Under the UAE Criminal Code, to harm an animal for no reason is a criminal offense. These are living animals and they deserve the respect of humans,” Martin added.
A resident of Sheikh Ahmed Golden Villas spoke of her anger in a written account of the incident, which was sent to Friends of Animals, Gulf News reported.
“My daughter witnessed all those present throwing stones and rocks at the iguana,” the resident said.
“It was alive and attempting to escape. One of the boys caught the animal by its tail and threw it. She saw the security guard pick up a very large rock and bring it down on the iguana. The stoning continued despite my daughter’s cries for mercy; she shouted at them repeatedly to stop. When she was ignored, she ran home for help. She arrived home extremely distraught by what she had witnessed.”
The woman said other neighbours arrived and chased the boys away, but it was too late to save the animal.
“Having lived on the edge of the park for the last 11 years, we have had several sightings of these quiet, vegetarian lizards,” she said.
She added: “They have lived peacefully here for years. We guess from the evidence that she had crossed the road to lay her eggs in the sand. My family, neighbours and I cannot get over the senseless and barbaric way this poor creature died — it leaves me utterly dismayed.”
According to UAE Animal Welfare Law, it is illegal to kill an animal in a merciless way, to use slow death means or to cause the animal severe pain without any acceptable reason or rational justification, a police official told Gulf News.