Twisting the lion's tail: Man takes lion cub out for joyride in Pattaya

Twisting the lion's tail: Man takes lion cub out for joyride in Pattaya
PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook/Ann Isaan Russia

He may have expected attention when he brought a lion cub out in a convertible - but probably not from government officials.

Thai authorities launched an investigation after a man in Pattaya was filmed taking a pet lion out for a joyride, The Pattaya News reported.

The video, taken by Facebook user Ann Isaan Russia on Sunday (Jan 21), showed a man driving a white Bentley convertible while a lion cub hung out in the back seat.

The cub, wearing a neon green collar attached to a leash, appeared to be calm and curious as it watched other motorists drive by on the busy street.

Multiple motorists looked concerned as the lion passed by them, while some snapped pictures of the felidae.

Ann captioned the video: "This is Pattaya!"

This video caught the eye of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, which promptly launched an investigation into the matter.

According to the authorities, the legal owner of the lion is Sawangjit Kosoongnern, who has a licence for the animal in the Ratchaburi province.

The lion cub, identified as a white lion, appeared to be about five to six months old.

Although the owner made a request to move the lion to Pattaya in the Chonburi province, she had yet to receive approval.

"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 six months and a fine of up to 500,000 baht (S$18,700)," said Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

All wild animals are dangerous and may attack at any time, Attaphon warned. Even though ownership of a lion is legal in Thailand, they must be confined in a specified location and cannot be held in a public area, he said.

Officials are still on the lookout for Sawangjit's friend, the man who drove the lion about the streets of Pattaya.

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