Cambodian authorities have confiscated a defanged and declawed pet lion that appeared in TikTok videos taken at a Phnom Penh villa.
The 18-month-old male, weighing 70kg (154lbs), had been imported from overseas by the owner, a Chinese national, to be raised in his home, environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said.
“Cambodian authorities started investigating this lion since we saw it on TikTok in late April,” Pheaktra said on Sunday. “People have no right to raise rare wildlife as pets.”
Wildlife Alliance – an animal rescue non-government organisation that helped with the raid – said the conditions of a private residence were “inappropriate for a wild animal”. “In addition, the lion’s canine teeth had been removed, along with its claws, which drastically reduces a lion’s quality of life,” it said.
The owner had shared a photo of the lion sitting in a driveway as a dog played nearby. There was also a video of it as a young cub being sprayed down with a hose.
The big cat was shown lounging with a small dog in photos released on Sunday by the environment ministry, as authorities prepared a crate to move it to the Phnom Tamao wildlife rescue centre on the outskirts of the capital.
The confiscation comes a day after a Twitter user posted an aerial shot of the creature roaming around a garden in the wealthy Boeung Keng Kang district of Phnom Penh.