A Pakistani man who took his pet lioness for a ride in the back of a pickup truck was charged with public harassment on Thursday after footage from startled bystanders went viral.
In the video posted on social media, the big cat can be seen reclining in the bed of the truck, a paw lolling over the ledge and seemingly unfazed by the heavy traffic inching through a chaotic street in the city of Karachi.
The clip has been viewed over a million times on Facebook, where people criticised the owner for cruelty and suggested he was showing off his wealth.
Pedestrians jostling through the cars stumble into clawing range, but the lion, which is wearing a collar and a leash held by a man in the vehicle, just yawns.
In the video a woman can be heard asking: "Who will take responsibility if something were to happen?" and wondering whether the animal is an endangered breed.
I mean who hasn't done this? Come on now: "Pakistan arrests man for driving pet lion through Karachi streets" https://t.co/wVNgbgYkOB
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) June 16, 2017
Another photo from Karachi, Pakistan of someone out cruising with a lion casually onboard. I'm starting to think it may be a status symbol. pic.twitter.com/yevGDTCmxF
— Ryan Prong ن (@RyanProng) June 15, 2017
Owner gets bail
Police said that Saqlain Javed, a local pet dealer in his thirties, was arrested after a concerned citizen made a complaint.
Javed, however, said he was taking the animal to the vet and had all the required permits and documentation.
"We have freed the accused on bail, but registered a case of negligent conduct with an animal," Muqadas Haider, a senior police officer said.
Javed has a licence to run a personal zoo and raise lion cubs, Haider added, but is not allowed to transport the animal on city streets.
The lion has been returned to its home as police consult the wildlife department on further action.