A YouTuber has been arrested after filming herself eating a protected bat species in a stomach-churning video.
Phonchanok Srisunaklua was arrested in Thailand, and is currently facing a jail sentence of five years and a fine up to $13,800 after eating a bowl of bat soup.
The Thai YouTuber uploaded a mukbang-style video to her channel Gin Zap Bep Nua Nua, which translates to “eat spicy and delicious” in English.
In the video, Phonchanook filmed herself indulging in a bowl of soup containing Lesser Asiatic yellow bats, a protected species. She reportedly compared them to “eating raw meat,” and ripped the animals apart, before dipping them in a spicy sauce.
At one point, she held up an entire bat to the camera, adding that “it has teeth,” and then crunched on the bones which she described as “soft.”
Shortly after the controversial video was uploaded to Phonchanok’s YouTube channel, comments were filled with viewers slamming her, amid concerns about the risk of new pandemic viruses.
Pattaraphon Manee-on, who works at Thailand’s Department of National Parks, told the Daily Mail that he was “shocked” by the video, as eating bat can present dangerous health risks.
“Because the incident should not happen both in Thailand and around the world, it is very risky behavior, especially as bats have a lot of pathogens,” he said.
“There is no proof that the hot water temperature will actually kill the germs. Just touching the saliva, blood and the skin is considered a risk. Besides the concern about the disease in bats, this woman could be guilty of breaking the Preservation and Protection and Wildlife Act, B.E. 2019, because bats are protected animals.”
According to TMZ, Phonchanok was arrested for possession of a protected wildlife carcass and for violating the Computer-Related Crimes Act of 2007.
The YouTuber initially denied the charges, but has since posted a video apologizing for her actions, stating that she would refrain from eating bats again.