Hartlepool Borough Council is one of more than 100 in the country who have given people licences to keep a dangerous animal.
The council has granted a Dangerous Wild Animal Licence – for a capuchin monkey – according to data from a Freedom of Information inquiry which shows lions, wolves and venomous snakes are among thousands of dangerous animals being kept on private properties across the UK.
Big cats including 13 tigers, two lions, eight leopards, seven cheetahs and nine pumas are prowling behind the fences of addresses up and down the land, an investigation by the Press Association has found.
Animal welfare experts say they are “deeply concerned” at the numbers and that animal welfare was being put at risk.
The unconventional menageries can be found in several major cities and the RSPCA says it was concerned that licences too often focus on protecting the public from harm, rather than on the well-being of the animals themselves.