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Cambodian PM allows return of seized pet lion to owner

IANS | July 06, 2021 11:45 AM

PHNOM PENH:Cambodian Prime Minister SHun Sen has allowed the return of a confiscated male lion to its owner after netizens showed sympathy to the animal as it did not eat after being sent to a wildlife conservation centre.

Authorities, together with animal rescue non-government organisation Wildlife Alliance, had seized the lion from home in the capital Phnom Penh's Boeung Keng Kang district on June 27 after its appearance on TikTok videos and complaints made by neighbours, reports Xinhua news agency.

Under Cambodin law, people do not have the right to raise wild animals.

However, Hun Sen said it was a special case that he had the lion returned to the owner because he saw that the owner had raised the animal like a family member since it was a cub.

"This evening, I talked with Agriculture Minister (Veng Sakhon) and agreed to allow the owner to take back the lion on condition that he builds a proper cage to ensure the safety of people inside the house and his neighbours, " Hun Sen said in a post on his Facebook late on Sunday.

"Thank you our compatriots both inside and outside the country for raising suggestions and showing pity on the lion, " he said.

The lion had been handed over to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Conservation and Rescue Center in southern Takeo province soon after the confiscation, and the owner of the lion was fined $30, 000, according to local media reports.

In response to a Facebook user about what happened to the fine charged by authorities, Hun Sen said that if it was true, the money would be returned to the lion owner.

The owner took his lion back from the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Conservation and Rescue Centreon Monday afternoon, and he promised to construct a proper enclosure.

Wildlife Alliance has said the 18-month-old lion, weighing over 70 kg, has been raised from a cub imported from overseas by the owner.

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