Officials and veterinarians from the Office of Conservation Area 2 (Sri Racha) visited the actual owner of a lion cub, which was spotted sitting in an open-top Bentley driven by a foreigner around Pattaya earlier this week.
The visit took place at 6 PM on January 24th, following the viral video of the lion. According to officials, a Thai woman, identified only as Ms. Pupe, 38, came out to declare ownership of the lion. She showed the officers the legal ownership documents and let the veterinarians inspect the animal. After a 30-minute health examination, the lion was found to be in good health, and veterinarians also found a microchip on its right shoulder, required by Thai law.
Mr. Kongkiat Temluan, Director of the Office of Conservation Area 2, clarified that lions fall under the category of controlled wild animals (Type A), and its possession is permissible only with a valid license. The microchip confirming the lion’s identity was found to be accurate and in line with the documents at the Ban Pong Administrative Office in Ratchaburi province, confirming its legal status.
Nevertheless, Mr. Kongkiat stated that Ms. Pupe is not authorized to relocate the lion. He said she would have to notify the Sri Racha Administrative Office first to conduct an inspection at the location where the lion will be housed. Additionally, it is inappropriate to transport the lion, regardless of it being a cub or on a leash, in a convertible vehicle because the lion can still pose danger to people in the vicinity and requires controlled containment and transportation, Mr. Kongkiat added.
Meanwhile, Ms. Pupe stated that she works in real estate. She said her foreign friend bought the lion for her as a gift as they shared an interest in exotic animals.
Ms. Pupe raised the lion at her house along with her other pets such as cats and dogs. Lately, her work had been very busy so she asked her foreign friend, the person seen in the video, to take the lion to a doctor because it was sick.
However, Ms. Pupe admitted that she didn’t expect her friend to put the lion in an open-top vehicle and drive it for a sightseeing tour around Pattaya before going to the doctor. After the incident went viral, Ms. Pupe scolded her friend, saying he brought her troubles.
Ms. Pupe revealed that she is currently in the process of acquiring additional necessary documents for her lion pet. Despite her confidence in obtaining a license soon, she now faces accusations of non-compliance with possession reporting requirements. This offense carries a potential penalty of up to one year in prison, a fine of up to 100,000 baht, or both.
Furthermore, she is under suspicion of violating another possession regulation, which could result in a six-month prison sentence, a fine exceeding 50,000 baht, or both.
As for her foreign friend, it was reported only that he is a 53-year-old Sri Lankan businessman. He left Thailand for his own country on January 22nd. His name was not revealed by the police.