Roaring Luxury: Thailand’s Lion Cub Bentley Ride Sparks Legal Uproar

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A recent incident involving a lion cub taking a ride in a white Bentley in Pattaya, Thailand, has captured global attention. This unusual sight, which quickly went viral online, has led to significant legal consequences for the involved parties.

The Viral Video and Its Aftermath

The video showcased a lion cub, seated in the back of a luxury Bentley, cruising through the lively streets of Pattaya. The footage, which gained over 2.6 million views, prompted an immediate investigation by Thai authorities.

Sawangjit Kosoongnern, a Thai woman, was charged with illegal possession of a lion cub, a violation of environmental and natural resources law. This charge stems from “possessing a protected wildlife without authorization” under the Wild Animal Conservation and Protection Act 2019. The potential penalties include a fine of up to 100,000 baht and a maximum jail term of one year. The lion, classified as a controlled and fierce animal, requires a safe and secure habitat and its movement is heavily restricted without explicit permission.

Investigation and Findings

Police and officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) carried out an examination at Kosoongnern’s property. They confirmed the lion cub’s health and matched its microchip data with DNP records. The investigation revealed that Kosoongnern bought the lion for 250,000 baht but lacked official documentation due to discrepancies in the animal’s sex identification.

The Role of the Sri Lankan Businessman

A significant figure in this case is a 53-year-old Sri Lankan businessman, identified as the driver in the viral video. Reportedly a friend of Kosoongnern, he has been deported back to Sri Lanka. He was seen driving the Bentley while the lion cub, wearing a chained collar, was in the back seat.

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Kosoongnern’s Statement

Kosoongnern, who is in the property business, stated that the lion was a gift from her foreign friend. She explained that on the day of the incident, her friend took the lion to a veterinarian, as she was occupied. She expressed surprise and disapproval of the lion being driven in a convertible.

Public Reaction and Wildlife Conservation Concerns

This incident has sparked widespread discussion about wildlife conservation, the legality of exotic pet ownership, and animal welfare in Thailand. The public’s fascination with the viral video has been met with concerns over the legal and ethical implications of such unconventional pet ownership.

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