Two men have been arrested in Thailand after singer Rihanna posted a picture with an endangered animal they were allegedly using to sell photo ops on the island of Phuket.
The “Stay” songstress, who is no stranger to racy selfies, posted one particularly scandalous photo on Instagram over the weekend that had nothing to do with exposing her body. While taking a break from her Diamonds World Tour before a concert in Singapore on Sunday, the singer took in the Thai nightlife and cuddled with a slow loris.
“Look who was talkin dirty to me! #Thailand #nightlife” she captioned a fuzzy pic of her bespectacled self with the creature posing on her shoulder. The seemingly innocuous snapshot was “liked” on the photo-sharing site hundreds of thousands of times and garnered the attention of Thai authorities, ultimately leading to some major consequences.
The large-eyed, long-trunked mammal is closely related to lemurs and lorisoids and is commonly found in South and Southeast Asia. It is a protected species in Thailand but is often used by poachers in tourists’ photo ops, according to the Guardian.
A Phuket governor ordered the ministry of natural resources to set up a sting on Sunday night in the Bangla Road area of Patong beach, the Guardian said, and the peddlers, one 20 and one 16 years old, did not fare so well.
“Phuket authorities were alerted to the picture [of Rihanna], and last night police arrested the two individuals who brought out the loris as a photo opportunity for tourists,” a Phuket district chief, Weera Kerdsirimongkon, told the Associated Press on Sunday.
They confiscated two lorises from the men, who could face a possession of protected animals charge. The charge carries a four-year prison sentence and $1,300 fine, according to several reports.
Authorities have been trying to crack down on vendors exploiting wildlife in popular tourist areas Elephants and orangutans are among the creatures travelers can come across and pay to have their picture taken with.
“It’s like a cat-and-mouse game. But this time it’s bigger because a celebrity like Rihanna posted the picture, and there were more than 200,000 ‘likes’ from around the world,” Weera said.
The 25-year-old singer also shared several pictures Friday playing and posing with a herd of elephants in the city and later tweeted live from a sex show in one of Phuket’s red-light districts. The shows are outlawed in the country, but her latest photos did not spark as much of an outrage.
However, the international pop star did get some love at a Thailand airport before heading to the Australia and New Zealand legs of her tour.
“Gave the immigration guy my passport and he handed me this in return without a word. Lol” she wrote. The image contained a photo of her with “I Love Rihanna” written on it.
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