Update: 18-Month-Old “Pet” Lion That Was Rescued Last Week In Cambodia Is Shockingly Returned To His Owner

Photos from: Wildlife Alliance

July 6, 2021, Update:

Sadly, an 18-month-old male lion who was being kept as a “pet” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was returned to his owner over the weekend. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed the news on his Facebook page.

Prime Minister Hun Sen was prompted to get involved after social media users called for the lion’s return after a video went viral, this time of owner Xinjiang feeding the 150-pound big cat at his home. The Cambodian Prime Minister reportedly declared this a “special case” because the lion had been fed by the owner from a young age and was treated like a family member.

“This evening, I had a discussion with the Minister of Agriculture who agreed to allow the owner to take the lion back,” explained a translated Facebook post by Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 4th.

Further, Prime Minister Hun Sen stipulated that the lion would be returned to Xinjiang on the condition that he “builds it a proper cage to ensure the safety of the people in the house and neighbors.”

Representing the majority of people who believe that a lion should never be kept as a “pet” under any circumstances, was UK Ambassador to Cambodia Tina Redshaw.

Redshaw shared on her Twitter account that she was disappointed that the lion that was confiscated from a city center residence is being returned, undermining legislation preventing the ownership and trade of endangered wildlife, harming global efforts to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade, to say nothing of the stress and suffering that captive animals endure.

July 2, 2021

An 18-month-old male lion who was being kept as a “pet” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was recently rescued by local authorities, along with Wildlife Alliance.

As per a statement released by the nonprofit organization, authorities were alerted about the lion after videos of the big cat in the owner’s backyard went viral. According to the operation team, Chinese nationals smuggled the lion into the country illegally from abroad.

The owner had removed the lion’s canine teeth and severely clipped his claws. Such modifications dramatically reduce the quality of life for wild cats. After being rescued by the team, the lion was transported to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), where he will be housed in a wilderness-like enclosure and given professional care.

The Forestry Administration, with the participation of the Deputy Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, along with Military Police, also assisted in the rescue of the 150 pound lion.

During the raid, the Forestry Administration warned the Chinese owners that it is illegal to keep wildlife at their residence.

“The conditions at a residential home are inappropriate for a wild animal,” Wildlife Alliance stated on its Twitter account, further noting that the lion is now safe.

While it is illegal to keep big cats as “pets” in most countries, sadly, there are several states in the U.S. where it is still legal, including: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Oklahoma.

‘The Big Cat Public Safety Act’ was just reintroduced in U.S. Congress this year and will ban the public from owning lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, cougars and jaguars as pets.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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