Lion and Lambo

NRG, 2021

The Uncollection

Lion and Lambo depicts a lion named Hei Man on his owner’s car – an iridescently wrapped Lamborghini.

Hei Man (“Dark Mind” in English) was trafficked to Cambodia from China at two months of age and raised in a villa in the centre of Phnom Penh. His canine teeth and claws were removed at some point in his 18-month life.

In June 2021, Hei Man and his owner moved into my neighbourhood. The villa where he was moved is surrounded by residential apartments, so it was not long before he was noticed in the front yard. The small villa is not fenced to hold a lion, so neighbours were understandably fearful of sharing the busy restaurant-lined streets of the inner city with one of the most powerful and dangerous predators on the planet.

Authorities were called on to act on community fears, and Hei Man was confiscated in a raid that made international headlines. Cambodian elites rallied around the Chinese owner, and a week later, Hei Man returned to the villa from the wildlife rescue centre where he had been rehomed.

There is much more to this story which can be followed through media articles. The chances of Hei Man making headlines again are exceedingly high.

27 June 2021 Pet lion confiscated in Cambodia after TikTok videos - BBC News

28 June 2021 Pet lion seized from home in Cambodia capital after appearance on TikTok | The Guardian

28 June 2021 Pet lion seized in Cambodia after being spotted on TikTok - CNN

28 June 2021 Chinese national speaks of his deep love for ‘pet lion’ that was living in a Phnom Penh villa - Khmer Times

28 June 2021 UPDATE: ‘Pet lion’ found in Phnom Penh kept under ‘poor’ conditions and had teeth removed - Khmer Times

30 June 2021 Man who kept ‘pet lion’ in Phnom Penh villa fined $30,000 - Khmer Times

1 July 2021 Touching reunion: PP ‘Lion King’ breaks his silence - Khmer Times

5 July 2021 Pet lion returned to owner after Cambodian PM's intervention - BBC News

5 July 2021 In Pictures: Phnom Penh’s ‘villa lion’ reunites with owner and animal chums at BKK1 home - Khmer Times

6 July 2021 Cambodia PM weighs in to get pet lion returned to owner | Reuters

6 July 2021 Cambodian PM orders return of defanged pet lion to owner | The Guardian

7 July 2021 Critics Excoriate Cambodia PM Hun Sen Over a Trafficked Pet Lion — Radio Free Asia

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