By Harriet Arkell
Police in Bangkok have arrested a pet shop owner after finding a menagerie of illegally imported animals during a swoop on a warehouse outside the city.
Thai officers found 14 albino lions from Africa and hundreds of other protected animals including birds, meerkats, tortoises, peafowls, capuchin monkeys and other species from overseas and Thailand, a police spokesman said.
Colonel Ek Ekasart said Montri Boonprom-on, 41, faced charges of possessing wildlife and carcasses, and he could face up to four years in jail and a fine of 40,000 baht (£830 or $1,300).
Ek said Montri owned an exotic pet shop at Bangkok's renowned Chatuchak weekend market and had been convicted of wildlife trading before.
Montri told reporters the lions were shipped legally and were waiting to be transferred to a zoo in Thailand's northeast.
He did not explain the discrepancy between his documents showing that he had imported 16 lions, and the fact that police had only found 14 of them at his warehouse in a residential area of Bangkok's Klong Sam Wa district.
Thailand is a hub of the international black market in protected animals. While the country is signed up to a convention regulating international trade in endangered species, Thai law does not extend protection to many alien species.
Other species seized included baboons, tortoises, sugar gliders and peacocks. Police also found a hornbill and a leopard, both protected by Thai law, which were packed in a box and were scheduled to be delivered to clients on Monday. More (many photos)....