By Thanyarat Doksone, AP
BANGKOK — Pop star Rihanna spent a weekend at the beach in Thailand, leaving behind a trail of racy tweets and an incriminating Instagram photograph showing her cuddling an endangered primate. That didn’t sit well with authorities, who arrested two people for allegedly peddling protected species.
On a break from her Diamonds World Tour, Rihanna visited the Thai island of Phuket, where she befriended the wildlife.
An Instagram photo she also shared on Twitter showed her in sunglasses snuggling up to a furry primate called the slow loris and was captioned: “Look who was talkin dirty to me!”
The slow loris, a squirrel-like animal with big eyes, is native to Southeast Asia and is listed as a protected species.
“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, said by telephone Sunday.
Police confiscated two lorises from the pair — a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy — who could face charges of possession of protected animals. The charge carries a penalty of up to four years in prison and a 40,000 baht (US$1,300) fine.
Weera said authorities have tried for years to crack down on the problem of vendors exploiting wildlife, particularly in popular tourist areas where people pay to pose for pictures with elephants, orangutans and other animals.
“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,” he said.
Rihanna also posted a picture of herself playing with a herd of elephants in the street Friday night, with the comment: “They all hail Empress when She walk by.”
On the same night, she tweeted a few unprintable comments about what she apparently witnessed at an adult show in one of Phuket’s red-light districts.
Saturday’s social media postings were devoted to the beach and photographs of the singer in a black bikini on a boat surrounded by turquoise water with limestone cliffs in the distance.
Before leaving Thailand on Sunday, she posted from the airport: “Gave the immigration guy my passport and he handed me this in return without a word. Lol.” The Instagram image had a picture of the singer that said “I love Rihanna.”
She performed on Sunday in Singapore before her tour heads to Australia and New Zealand.