- An influencer in Thailand has apologized after appearing to eat a bat in a YouTube video.
- A local news report said the influencer was arrested for violating animal conservation laws.
- “I apologize for not thinking clearly and carefully,” the influencer said in her apology video.
An influencer in Thailand who appeared to eat a bat on camera and was subsequently arrested has since apologized to viewers.
Phonchanok Srisunaklua, a YouTuber with 254,000 subscribers, typically posts mukbang videos — a genre involving eating food on camera — to her channel Gin Zap Bep Nua Nua, which translates to “eat spicy and delicious” in English.
Earlier this month, she posted the now-deleted video in which she sits in front of a bowl of soup containing what are reportedly several Lesser Asiatic yellow bats, which are a protected species.
A version of Srisunaklua’s video uploaded to Facebook shows the YouTuber pulling apart the meat of an animal that looks like a bat before dipping it in a red sauce and eating it.
The Thaiger reported that Phon Kaew Police officers arrested Srisunaklua on suspicion of violating Thailand’s 2019 Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, which prohibits the “hunting” and “possession” of “preserved or protected wild animals,” according to the UN.
Thailand is also a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, designed to ensure that the international trade of protected species, including bats, does not threaten their survival.
In a subsequent YouTube video posted on November 9, Srisunaklua did not mention an arrest, but said, “I apologize to my fans. I apologize to my colleagues and family for my actions in this matter.”
The influencer said that some of her followers “were disappointed” by her post, and added, “I apologize for not thinking clearly and carefully. I’m really sorry for doing that. From now on, I will not do what I’ve done in the video. I will not let this happen again.”
Phonchanok Srisunaklua did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The National Library of Medicine describes the consumption of bats as a risk to public health, as it places humans at risk of contracting bat-borne diseases, such as SARS and Ebola.
In the days since her arrest, Srisunaklua has continued to post mukbang content on her YouTube channel. Local police told The Thaiger the influencer has denied the charges. She is currently facing a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 baht, which is roughly $13,900.
Insider was unable to contact local authorities for comment.
Influencers across Asia — where the mukbang genre is immensely popular — have previously faced backlash for posting controversial videos involving eating unusual or endangered animals.
In August, a Chinese streamer was reportedly under police investigation following a video in which she ate a great white shark, which is a protected species in China. In May 2021, a food blogger from China’s Hainan province was detained for reportedly eating an endangered sea snail, according to China Central Television.
These videos are also highly controversial among influencers’ viewers and followers, who criticize the creators for promoting dangerous behavior in their videos. In September, a Chinese influencer named Wang Can promised viewers he would start posting more “positive” content after facing backlash for eating a bee on camera, which he said caused his face to swell up. Insider was unable to contact the influencer for comment at the time.