Arrests Follow Joyride With Lion

Thai woman among those facing charges over illegal possession of cub
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2024 10:45 AM CST

A woman claiming ownership of a lion cub is facing prison time in Thailand, where the animal was paraded around in an open-top Bentley. Police became aware of the scene through videos shared online, per Business Insider. Though the lion appeared calm for the joyride through the streets of Pattaya, the footage "caused an uproar in Thailand, sparking accusations of animal cruelty and questions around public safety," per the Telegraph. Visited by police on Wednesday, Sawangjit Kosoongnern claimed to have legally acquired the animal, which was found to be in good health with a microchip, as required by law, Pattaya News reports. However, officials determined the lion had been purchased from a facility that wasn't inspected, making the sale illegal, per the BBC.

Officials also said it was illegal to transport the lion in an open-top vehicle, given the potential danger to the public. "An individual can obtain permission to own a lion, but they must keep it in a specified location, not in a public area," said Atthaphon Charoenchansa, head of the nation's parks department, per the Telegraph. It was actually a Sri Lankan businessman and friend of the owner who'd been driving with the lion in what turned out to be a rented Bentley, per Pattaya News. The man, who could've faced up to six months in prison for the public display, has since left Thailand. Kosoongnern, meanwhile, faces up to a year in prison for possession of a controlled wild animal without permission. The man who sold her the lion is also said to be facing charges. (More Thailand stories.)

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