This is a TNB Public Service Announcement. Don’t Store Wildlife In Your Pants.
We at TNB were not aware this message needed to be provided. We were wrong. Recent events, recorded by the U.S. Department of Justice, have demonstrated the need for this friendly reminder.
From South Florida, the April 12, 2018 press release reads:
Working independently and separately from each other, these six charged defendants used sophisticated methods to traffic protected wildlife, specifically migratory birds.(…)and the hunting of migratory birds, in particular the illegal hunting of raptors with rifles. They also used traditional smuggling techniques to unlawfully transport the captured wildlife. These techniques included the shipment of migratory birds to buyers across the country in boxes with hidden compartments; the use of a false name and address on airmail shipments; false statements on customs declarations; and the concealment of the protected wildlife in hair curlers taped to a defendant’s body, beneath baggy pants.
Even with the limited protection hair curlers might provide, and if they are only small birds, it is still dangerous to keep many tiny animals with sharp beaks and claws in one’s pants. Dangerous to the birds, who might not survive in the hot and humid (and likely pungent) atmosphere, and dangerous to the person whose sensitive anatomy might come into very close contact with the sharp edges of the confined creatures.
If this were a unique occurrence we at TNB might write it off as unworthy of a PSA. However, as an older story from New Zealand reminds us, this was not a unique occurrence. From Stuff:
A German visitor was caught trying to board a flight at Christchurch Airport on Sunday with endangered geckos and skinks hidden in his underwear.
Hans Kurt Kubus, a 58-year-old from Bad Munstereifel, Limbach, Germany, pleaded guilty in Christchurch District Court today to five charges of trading in exploited species, and two of hunting absolutely protected wildlife.
“When searched by New Zealand Customs Service staff a small package was located concealed inside the defendant’s underwear,” said Mr Bodie.
“The package contained eight separate compartments separating various gecko and skink species. The defendant had hand-sewn the eight compartments together to form a single compact concealed package.
There is a dark side to gecko life, and that dark side includes traveling across the world in someone’s underwear. Still, at least in this case they weren’t being worn. The same cannot be said for some turtles.
In 2014, a young boy in China desperately wanted to keep his pet turtle with him. From the Daily Mail:
The boy, named Congcong, and his grandmother were going through security when his grandmother told him to let the turtle go as pets weren’t allowed on their flight from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
Congcong was so enamored with the turtle, that he refused to let go of it, at the last minute secretly stuffing the reptile into his underwear, hoping he could smuggle it onto the plane.
But the plucky lad was busted when security officials noticed something moving in his underpants.
This seemed to have inspired another man, this one much older and with more nefarious motives. A few weeks after Congcong was caught, Kai Xu, a Canadian man of Chinese origin, was shown to have gone Congcong one better. Or more accurately, 50 better. From CBC:
Xu was found to have 41 live turtles strapped to his legs and 10 hidden between his legs, according to an affidavit from a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which outlined the criminal complaint.
But what type of turtle? That’s a key question. Consulting again the CBC:
He was caught last year at a border crossing with 51 snappers taped to his body.
10 snapping turtles hidden between his legs.
Don’t store wildlife in your pants. Just don’t.
Question of the night: have you ever had an experience with the appearance of unexpected wildlife?