6 June 2024

The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department will initiate legal action against two Thais, a Sri Lankan and a Ukrainian for being in possession of and moving a lion without a permit.

The department’s decision to charge them comes after a viral video clip showed a young lion recently enjoying a ride in a convertible in Pattaya, Chon Buri province.

Veera Khunchairak, the department’s deputy director-general, said that the investigation into the matter has revealed that Swangjit Kosoongnern purchased the animal from a farm in Ratchaburi province on December 6th and obtained a permit to keep a lion.

Swangjit applied for a permit to move it to Pattaya, but did so before the permit was granted.

The lion was kept in a cage at a house rented by a Sri Lankan man and a Ukrainian woman. It was the Sri Lankan who took the cat out for a ride.

Swangjit explained that she had asked the Sri Lankan to take the lion to a vet, unaware that he would also take the lion for a ride in public.

The latest information indicates that the Sri Lankan has already left Thailand.

Veera said that charges faced by Swangjit and the Ukrainian carry a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to Bt100,000 on conviction.

The lion is currently being kept at the Ukrainian’s house, pending its return to the farm in Ratchaburi, whose owner, identified only as “Kit”, may also face charges.