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Thai owner facing charges after pet lion taken for a ride around Pattaya

PHOTO: Siam Rath

A Thai woman could face a prison sentence or a stiff fine after her Indian friend took her pet lion for a car ride around the streets of Pattaya. According to a Thai PBS World report, video footage and photos of a young lion riding in a convertible Bentley went viral on social media, prompting the authorities to investigate.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation found that the lion was legally registered to a Thai woman in the central province of Ratchaburi, who was named as Sawangjit Kosoongnern.

However, DNP director-general Atthaphon Charoenchansa says that while the woman had applied for permission to move the animal to Pattaya, this had not yet been granted.

“Therefore, Sawangjit did violate laws concerning the taking of a wild animal out in public and moving its location without prior permission. She could face a jail term of up to 6 months and/or a fine of up to 50,000 baht.”

Atthaphon has confirmed that according to Thai law, it is legal to own a lion, but it cannot be taken to a public place and needs to be kept in an appropriate location.

“All wild animals are dangerous and have the potential to attack at any time. An individual can obtain permission to own a lion, but they must keep it in a specified location, not in a public area.”

He adds that having a lion as a pet appears to be growing in popularity with both Thais and foreigners.

“A lion can cost about 500,000 baht. In Chon Buri province, four Thais and a zoo have been granted permits to keep a total of 15 lions.”

Meanwhile, anyone owning a lion illegally could be in violation of two clauses of Article 19 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, risking a jail term and a fine.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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