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Museum aids Henderson County animal cruelty investigation

Media Advisory
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 8, 2011
Contact: emelia.cowans@naturalsciences.org
919.733.7450, ext. 305

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences aids in Henderson County animal cruelty investigation and retrieval of over 60 venomous reptiles

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh received word on Friday, August 5 just before 1 a.m. about an ongoing criminal investigation involving a Hendersonville man who was bitten by a venomous snake he was keeping as a pet. As a result, the man had to be transported to Columbia, South Carolina for medical treatment. This prompted the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department, Henderson County Animal Services and the Wildlife Resources Commission to launch a joint investigation resulting in the discovery of over 60 venomous reptiles. Friday afternoon at approximately 3 p.m., the Museum responded to a request for help from Henderson County Animal Services by dispatching a two-person team to go and aid in the handling and transport of these animals from a small trailer park in rural Henderson County back to the Museum in Raleigh.

General Statutes Article 55 states that the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is to serve as the designated representative to identify and contain venomous and dangerous reptiles due to our specialized staff of experts with extensive experience identifying and handling exotic species of reptiles.

Upon arrival, our team examined the contents of a single-wide trailer filled with live and dead snakes. Most of the live animals had already been boxed up in new containers for transport. The owner’s freezer was also filled with dead reptiles which we also retrieved in a cooler. No reptiles escaped during transport. At this time, the Museum is compiling a report that will detail the identities of these reptile species, which will then be turned over to Henderson County law enforcement, who in turn will be in charge of providing any further information to the media.

Right now, these animals are in quarantine inside transport containers until we can identify them and assess their overall health and rule out disease.  The Museum intends to take every precaution to protect our Living Collections from contamination. We also take great consideration for the human safety of all involved and therefore cannot allow any media inside of quarantine to take pictures.

After these animals are identified and the report issued, the Museum will await instruction from Henderson County on the disposition of these animals, which may include which ones can be kept in our Museum or sent elsewhere. For more information, please contact Emelia Cowans at emelia.cowans@naturalsciences.org, or 919.733.7450, ext. 305.

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