Cambodian PM orders return of confiscated pet lion to owner

The PM ruled the incident as a "special case" and made a "sympathetic" decision.

Fiona Tan | July 06, 2021, 01:21 PM

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A previously confiscated 18-month-old pet lion has been returned to its owner under the Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen's orders on July 5, according to Reuters' report.

A "special case"

In a Facebook post on July 4, Hun stipulated the lion's return on the condition that the owner builds a "proper cage to ensure the safety of the people in the house and neighbours".

This comes after a discussion with the Minister of Agriculture in Cambodia, wrote Hun.

Hun's decision was "a sympathetic" one said the agriculture minister, according to news outlet VOA Khmer.

According to Reuters, Hun said the incident was a "special case", as the owner had fed the lion since it was a cub and treated it "like a family member".

The Cambodian Prime Minister also ordered authorities to return any penalty or fine paid by the owner, reported BBC.

The owner, who had not expected the lion's return, told reporters he was "happy" and "touched" according to The Guardian.

However, Britain's ambassador to Cambodia, Tina Redshaw said she was disappointed about the lion's return.

She said the move "undermined Cambodia's legislation to prevent the ownership and trade of endangered wildlife" in a tweet on July 5.

Previously on June 27, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment in Cambodia, Neth Pheaktra wrote in a tweet that in accordance to the law, people do not have "the right to raise wildlife animals at home".


Authorities in Cambodia began their investigations in April after discovering the pet lion in a TikTok video and receiving complaints from neighbours, reported South China Morning Post.

The lion was subsequently seized on June 27 following a raid of the owner's private residence in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and relocated to to a conservation and rescue centre.

Wildlife Alliance, an animal rescue non-governmental organisation who helped remove the lion from the owner's premises, found that the lion’s canine teeth, along with its claws, had been removed.

In addition, the organisation wrote the conditions at the residential home were inappropriate for a wild animal, which "drastically" reduces the lion's quality of life.

According to Wildlife Alliance, the lion was smuggled illegally into Cambodia from abroad.

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Top image from Neth Pheaktra and Wildlife Alliance website