Thailand probes private ownership of 153 lions after Pattaya Bentley incident (video)

Picture courtesy of paga.gennari Tiktok

Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation revealed that there are 153 lions in the possession of 24 Thai nationals, highlighting the controlled status of these wild animals and the legal requirement to declare ownership.

This announcement comes amidst a high-profile investigation following the circulation of a video showing a lion being driven around Pattaya in a Bentley, which drew significant public attention.

Atthaphon Charoenchansa, the Director-General of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, today ordered Naruephon Tipmontha, Director of the Forest Fire Control Division, to initiate an inquiry.

The investigation began with identifying the Bentley Continental GTC registered in Phuket, which was seen in the viral video.

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The driver, described as a bald man with dark skin, is believed to be Sri Lankan and is suspected to have rented or purchased the vehicle from TNP IMPORT CARS PHUKET without having transferred ownership. The car was driven in Pattaya, Chon Buri Province, far from its registered location. The driver of the Bentley is believed to have already fled the country.

@paga.gennari GTA 6 🇹🇭 #pattaya #lion #gta ♬ original sound – Pierre-Alexandre

The investigative task force, known as Hawk Force, coordinated with the Conservation Area Administration Office 5 (Nakhon Si Thammarat) along with local police in Phuket to question the individual who rented or bought the car from a woman named Atcharaporn. Meanwhile, the Conservation Area Administration Office 2 (Si Racha) was instructed to inspect the residence of a woman named Sawangjit (surname withheld) in Ban Pong, who had declared possession of controlled wildlife in the area, reported KhaoSod.

Atthaphon emphasized that lions are considered controlled wildlife that must be reported by their owners. They are categorized under Class 1 of controlled species, requiring stringent containment measures due to their potential aggression and danger to others.

He further stated that failure to report possession of lions could result in imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to 100,000 baht (US$2,788), or both, and non-compliance with regulations could lead to imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to 50,000 baht (US$1,394), or both.

Currently, reports indicate that 153 lions are owned by 24 individuals and private zoos nationwide. As the Department continues to investigate and enforce wildlife control regulations, the recent incident in Pattaya has brought renewed focus on the exotic pet trade and its implications for public safety and wildlife conservation.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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