Three charged in Thailand after lion cub filmed riding in back of Bentley

Three people have reportedly been charged with illegal possession of a lion cub after a video of the animal riding in a convertible Bentley in Thailand went viral online.

The nine-month-old cub was captured wearing a collar, and resting its paws on the edges of the white car as it travelled through the streets of Pattaya.

The video was posted on TikTok on 24 January and it quickly went viral, having been viewed more than 40,000 times.

Officials from the police and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) launched an investigation and found the animal inside a property along with Sawangjit Kosungneon, a Thai woman who is the lion's registered owner, and Abina Kuruts, a Ukrainian who was reported as the animal's keeper, according to the Bangkok Post.

Kosungneon, Kuruts and a 53-year-old Sri Lankan, who was driving the car while the lion cub was in the back, are all facing charges of illegal possession of a wild animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, Prasert Sornsathapornkul, a director at the DNP, was reported as saying.

The offence carries a prison term of up to a year and or a fine of up to 100,000 baht (just over £2,000).

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A microchip implanted in the cub showed that it came from a farm in the small province of Nakhon Pathom and ownership had been transferred to Kosungneon, but the paperwork was not yet complete.

The farmer who owned the cub has had a complaint filed against him for possession and transferring wildlife without permission, according to the Bangkok Post, who quoted the director of the DNP.

Thailand's Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act prohibits a private person from possessing protected wildlife, including big cats, except where the person owned such animal before the act became effective in 1992.

A total of 38 owners have registered possession of 224 lions across the country, according to the Bangkok Post.