Pet Lion Confiscated by Police After Videos of Wild Animal Go Viral

Cambodian authorities have confiscated a pet lion, after the owner shared videos of it on TikTok.

On June 27, Phnom Penh authorities teamed up with NGO Wildlife Alliance to raid the house where the lion lived on Sunday. The lion was 18 months old and weighed 70kg (nearly 155 pounds), which is much less than the 190kg (nearly 420 pounds) average of adult male lions.

Reportedly, the lion roamed the halls of the large house in the wealthy neighborhood of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. According to a press release by the Wildlife Alliance, the owner had removed the animal's canine teeth, which are vital for its ability to bite meat, and severely clipped its claws.

"Such modifications can dramatically reduce wild cats' quality of life," wrote Wildlife Alliance.

The operation was a joint effort between the Forestry Administration, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the police, the military police and Wildlife Alliance. The team blew a tranquilizer dart at the animal, before moving it into a metal crate to be transported to a rescue center.

Authorities first noticed the pet lion after it gained popularity on social media platform TikTok. Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told Agence France-Presse: "Cambodian authorities started investigating this lion since we saw it on TikTok in late April. People have no right to raise rare wildlife as pets."

According to Vice, the lion was captured on TikTok since it was a cub, playing with hoses and being embraced by humans.

The lion has since been transported to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, where the Cambodian Forestry Administration is looking after it. He will be looked after in a "wilderness-like enclosure and provided professional care," said Wildlife Alliance.

In recent years, Cambodia has been a hub for wildlife trafficking like this lion, who was reportedly brought in by Chinese nationals. "Cambodia is a transit country for wildlife trafficking. We have been actively involved in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking and are committed to preventing and combating the illegal trade," Pheaktra told Vice.

In the U.S, the future of big cat pets is similarly up in the air, with many pushing for The Big Cat Public Safety Act bill to be passed, which would ban most big cat ownership, including lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars and cougars.

Currently, it is illegal to keep such animals as pets in most countries, but some states across the U.S. do still allow it.

Pet lion before being seized
The lion was seized by Cambodian authorities. Wildlife Alliance
Lion being carried out in blanket
The lion being carried out of the house. Wildlife Alliance