Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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7-foot python taken into custody

The snake could be put on display at Honolulu Zoo

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Honolulu police seized a 7-foot albino Burmese python Friday, the second snake to be collected on Oahu this week.

Acting on a tip to Animal CrimeStoppers, officers found the nonvenomous male snake in a West Loch home, said Sgt. Kim Buffett, police CrimeStoppers coordinator.

The snake's owners did not resist giving it up after being told they would be granted amnesty from state laws prohibiting the ownership of snakes, Buffett said.

The owners appear to have had the snake for only several months, Buffett said. It was living on a diet of rats. The snake is about 6 or 7 years old and not fully grown, officials said. According to National Geographic, Burmese pythons can grow up to 23 feet long and live 20 to 25 years in the wild.

Police turned the snake over to the Hawaiian Humane Society, which transferred it to the state Department of Agriculture.

Keoni Vaughn, director of operations for the Humane Society, urged the public to voluntarily turn in any illegal animals to avoid prosecution. The maximum penalty for possessing an illegal animal is $200,000 or up to three years in prison. Vaughn said not only will the Humane Society accept illegal animals at its Moiliili office, it will pick up the creatures, no questions asked.

The Agriculture Department is expected to offer the python to the Honolulu Zoo for display purposes. The zoo is allowed to have up to two nonvenomous male snakes in its collection at one time, said Janelle Saneishi, Agriculture Department spokeswoman.

If the zoo does not take the snake, the department will hold it until it can be sent to a reptile farm on the mainland. The Honolulu Zoo would get "credit" it can use to obtain other reptiles from the farm, Saneishi said.

Under no circumstances are confiscated reptiles killed, she said.

Meanwhile, the person who turned in the tip is eligible for a reward of up to $1,000, Buffett said.

On Monday, pig hunters found a 9-foot boa constrictor in Wai­awa Gulch. On June 28, HPD confiscated a skink and a bearded dragon from a Halawa apartment.

In February, firefighters and police discovered a 5-foot boa constrictor and four piranhas in Alewa Heights after a house fire there.

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