‘TikTok’ lion being raised illegally as a pet rescued by authorities in Cambodia

Cambodian authorities confiscate a male lion pet in Phnom Penh

The lion inside the villa where it was illegally kept as a pet


Cambodian authorities have rescued a pet lion that was seen being cuddled and bathed in a series of videos on TikTok.

A Chinese national had apparently imported the 18-month-old male lion, weighing 70kg, and was raising the wild animal in a villa in the capital Phnom Penh, according to officials.

The owner previously posted images of the lion on TikTok, including one which showed the wild animal sitting in a driveway as a dog played nearby.

Another older video showed the young cub being sprayed with a hose.

Just a day before the rescue, a Twitter user shared an aerial image of the animal in a garden in the Boeung Keng Kang district of Phnom Penh, The Guardian reported.

In images released on Sunday by the environment ministry, the lion is pictured in the private residence before being transferred.

Cambodian authorities confiscate a male lion pet in Phnom PenhThe lion pictured with a small dog in the villa before being transferred to a more suitable homeEPA

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Sunday: “Cambodian authorities started investigating this lion since we saw it on TikTok in late April.

“People have no right to raise rare wildlife as pets.”

Animal rescue non-governmental organisation Wildlife Alliance helped authorities rescue the lion and described the villa living conditions in a Facebook post as “inappropriate for a wild animal”.

In the post, they added: “In addition, the lion’s canine teeth had been removed, along with its claws, which drastically reduces a lion’s quality of life.”

“A male lion will be handed over to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Conservation and Rescue Center,” said Koam Seiha, director of Phnom Penh Prey Chey Administration.

“The Chinese owners have been called in by the authorities to stop raising such wildlife.”

Authorities have not yet said if the owner will face any legal action.

The lion is now being cared for appropriately at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre.

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