Authorities raided a house in a wealthy district of Phnom Penh to rescue an 18-month-old lion that had been defanged, declawed and illegally kept as a pet.
They said they had tracked down the animal in the Cambodian capital’s Boeung Keng Kang district after videos of it went viral on TikTok.
The officers found the male lion padding placidly around a hallway with a collar around its neck on Sunday. One blew a tranquiliser dart into its side before the team moved in and carried the slumped 70 kg (154 lbs) animal into a metal crate.
The lion was then taken to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in the outskirts of the capital, officials said.
“It was rare species that was smuggled from abroad,” environment ministry spokesperson Neth Pheaktra said.
“According to the law, people don’t have the right to raise wildlife at home, especially rare species.”
The Wildlife Alliance NGO said it helped during the raid that was a joint operation led by the Forestry Administration, with the Deputy Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the police and the military police.