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Thai woman faces jail after taking pet lion out for a ride in a Bentley

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A woman in Thailand may face jail time after a video of her driving around Pattaya in a convertible Bentley along with her pet lion cub went viral.

The viral cub: In a video shared online, the seemingly domesticated cub can be seen calmly sitting in the backseat of the luxury car as it drives past onlookers in Pattaya’s Bang Lamung district during the daytime. In another video taken during the evening, the lion is seen sticking its head out of the vehicle and climbing back and forth from the Bentley’s front and back seats. At one point, the owners also carried the large cat out of their vehicle for some people to take photos.

Reactions: The videos have sparked accusations of animal cruelty and endangering public safety, with some Thais noting the owner’s lack of responsibility, demanding for her arrest and advocating for the release of the lion.

Violating the law: The owner, identified as Sawangjit Kosoongnern, is legally allowed to keep the lion in Ratchaburi province, according to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. However, she reportedly violated laws by taking the cub to Pattaya without approval. She may be subject to a maximum prison sentence of six months and/or a fine of up to 50,000 baht ($1,400).

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“Sawangjit did violate laws concerning the taking of a wild animal out in public and moving its location without prior permission,” Atthaphon Charoenchansa, the department’s chief, told the South China Morning Post. “All wild animals are dangerous and have the potential to attack at any time. An individual can obtain permission to own a lion, but they must keep it in a specified location, not in a public area.”

While owning exotic animals is legal in Thailand, they need to be registered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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