The Thai National Parks Department is launching an investigation into a foreign man who was spotted driving through the street of Pattaya in a Bentley, accompanied by what appears to be a lion cub in the back seat.
The incident came to light from a viral TikTok video posted by a user named “Ann Isaan Russia (แอน อีสานรัสเซีย)”. The clip clearly depicted a white lion sitting in a luxurious open-roof Bentley, traversing on the busy street of Pattaya.
In the footage, several motorists appeared concerned and somewhat apprehensive about the lion’s presence, given the proximity between them and the animal. However, the lion itself seemed calm and domesticated and appeared to have a collar and leash.
In response to the incident, Mr. Atthaphon Charoenchansa, the Director-General of the Department of National Parks, immediately assigned relevant officials to investigate the incident.
As of January 23rd, Mr. Atthaphon said officials are attempting to identify the owner of the lion cub in question to check their ownership documentation. Currently, there are only four individuals and one zoo in Chonburi province who have legally declared their ownership of 15 lions. It is legal to possess exotic animals like lions in Thailand, but does require somewhat extensive permits and licenses.
At the time of reporting, it is not yet clear if the foreigner in the video is the owner of the lion or how they acquired it. Nevertheless, Mr. Atthaphon said it is still considered a violation to bring predatory animals out of their authorized area for nurturing and to drive around with them in public areas in improper vehicles unless being officially transported with permission.
Mr. Atthaphon further stated that based on the video, the lion is approximately 5-6 months old. It is a white lion that is currently in high demand, with each cub fetching a price of around 500,000 baht. This popularity is observed among both foreign nationals and Thai citizens, particularly in the Chonburi area.
Mr. Atthaphon is urging the public to contact the national parks department via the 1362 hotline to provide more information about the incident.