Albino lions found at Thai pet shop owner's house

Featured South East Asia - June 11th, 2013

A pet shop owner in Thailand was charged with illegal wildlife trading after police discovered more than 200 protected animals, including rare white lions, in captivity at his house in Bangkok.

Meerkats, marmoset monkeys, peacocks, tortoises, birds and other reptiles from overseas and Thailand were found along with 14 albino African lions at the property of Montri Boonprom-on, the owner of an exotic pet shop at Bangkok’s popular Chatuchak weekend market.

The lions were believed to have been brought into the country using permits for sales to zoos but were instead offered to private buyers, reports AFP.

Montri, who was previously convicted of the same charge four years ago, said the lions were shipped legally and were to be transferred to a zoo in Thailand’s northeast. He did not explain why only 14 lions remained at his house while documents showed he had imported 16, according to AP.

Another unnamed Thai man was also charged after police raided Montri’s house following a tip off by neighbors who lodged complaints about the noise and smell. If convicted, both men could face up to four years in jail and a 40,000 baht ($1,300) fine.

The animals were confiscated and will be under the care of Thailand’s he Department of Natural Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Thailand is well-known hub of the wild animal black market, driven by demand for exotic pets and traditional medicines made from animal parts.