Imagine strolling down your typical suburban street only to find yourself locking eyes with not the neighborhood’s tabby, but a pair of majestic white lions meandering freely. This almost mythic scene was the puzzling reality for locals when they spotted these regal felines patrolling the area, stirring a mixture of awe and anxiety in the community. The conundrum, aired on the virtual town square of Facebook earlier this week, sent ripples of concern vibrating through the digital grapevine.
The source of this unlikely suburban safari was uncovered within the walls of a modest one-storey domicile, the residence of one Jarinyaporn Kaewsai, a 28-year-old guardian of an eclectic menagerie, including the aforementioned lions – a male-female duo, merely 10 months old – and a pair of sturdy Rottweiler dogs. Indeed, Jarinyaporn and two of her trusted employees had set up quite an extraordinary household.
In what seemed like a plot twist in an urban-wildlife crossover episode, Jarinyaporn disclosed that the lions’, shall we say, impromptu neighborhood strolls were the result of electronical gremlins – rogue gate malfunctions facilitated these unscheduled escapes.
She was prompt to produce evidence of her feline acquisitions, documents tracing back to a zoo in the lovely Nakhon Pathom province which furnished a cool 500,000 baht in exchange for each lion, back when they were but tiny 45-day-old cubs in December 2022.
However, the scrutinizing eyes of officials detected some glaring inconsistencies. The script of ownership noted two male lions, while only one individual’s microchip could tango with the official database—a critical detail considering the standing of lions as protected animals under the vigilant gaze of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Furthermore, bureaucracy’s embrace had been sidestepped, with no records of registration for the lions found filed with the DNP, an evident misstep in protected animal law.
Jarinyaporn, it turns out, was already choreographing the lions’ return to their former zoo home, which was scheduled to retrieve them in a matter of days.
With the public safety dance underway, DNP officials orchestrated a tranquilizer dart ballet to pacify the lions, ensuring a safe passage to the Bang Lamung Wildlife Breeding Centre where those involved would await fur-ther investigation. Consequently, Jarinyaporn faced the music, charged with the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act’s melody.
The narrative deepened as a connection was made to a case involving another lion cub, previously sold by the very same farm to a Thai woman who now faced the legal music for her unreported feline lodger.
And if this fracas wasn’t sufficiently circus-like, tipsters may recall a viral video serving as a modern-day sideshow, featuring a foreigner cruising Pattaya City in an opulent convertible Bentley, lion nonchalantly perched on the back seat. The owner of this safari-star, a companion of the foreign traveler, faced similar charges under the directive designed to chorus the well-being of wild fauna.
Police, with the authority of ringmasters, have issued a stern reminder that underestimating the severity of such offenses can lead to a grand finale of a year in the proverbial lion’s den of jail, a 100,000 baht fine, or a combination performance of both penalties. In the end, the tale of the roaming lions serves as both a wondrous and cautionary fable in the importance of respecting the boundaries between the wild kingdoms and our own, ever-encroaching concrete jungles.