Lion who lived in Phnom Penh villa to be returned to its Chinese owner, says PM
Prime Minister Hun Sen said Sunday night that he allowed returning of a male lion to a Chinese man who had raised it a week after authorities had removed it.
On June 27, authorities confiscated a nearly fully grown male lion from a Boeng Keng Kang home in Phnom Penh after online reports about it wandering freely in Zhai Xinjiang’s backyard.
The lion known as Hei Man (Dark Mind in English) was fed six kilogrammes in cooked meat and drank one kilogramme of milk daily.
Mr Hun Sen said he raised the issue with Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon and agreed to have the lion returned to Zhai.
“This evening I discussed it with Minister of Agriculture and agreed to allow the owner to take back the animal on the condition that he builds a proper enclosure to ensure the safety of people inside the home and the neighbors,” Mr Hun Sen said in a post on his Facebook on Sunday night.
“Thank you our countrymen both inside and outside the country for giving advice and pity on the lion,” he said.
Zhai was charged $30,000 and the animal was taken to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife and Rescue Centre to stay in a specially designed enclosure.
Zhai said last week that he had taken in the animal as a cub when it was just two months old and cared for it for nearly one year.
He denied that he maltreated the lion.
In response to a Facebook user about what happened to the fine charged by authorities, Mr Hun Sen said that the money will be returned to the lion owner.