Police arrested the owner of a house in Thailand Monday after they found 14 African lions and assorted monkeys, reptiles and birds being kept on the property.
The large collection of animals was found in the eastern Bangkok suburb of Minburi in a raid carried out by police and officials of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.
In addition to the lions, which appeared to be in good condition in cages in the large compound, police found 23 meerkats, 17 marmoset monkeys, 12 peacocks and various types of turtles and birds.
Police Colonel Sarawut Jitrabeab said they arrested the house owner, Montri Boonphonon, 41, and charged him with illegal possession of and trade in protected wildlife.
He said Montri had been arrested before on similar charges, allegedly acting as a middleman connecting smugglers of African animals with buyers in Thailand.
Montri insisted he had proper purchase documents for the animals.
“We will wait for the owner to submit all the proper documents related to the animals,” said Navee Changpirom, an official of the Department of National Parks specializing in the illegal wildlife trade.
“The owner must take care of them and prove they were legally imported.” Thailand hosted the 16th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in March and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged her support in the fight against the illegal trade in wild animals.