A government agency awfully claim that Japanese inspections team had apparently failed to detect a snake inside a car before its arrival in Auckland.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) saw a stowaway rat snake in a Nissan Leaf electric car imported from Japan on Sunday afternoon.
An MPI spokesperson said on Monday that biosecurity checks of the vehicle were carried out by an accredited operator/company in Japan. “MPI is working with the operator to determine how the snake was missed and will direct changes to procedures if required,” an MPI spokesperson said.
After clearing Ports of Auckland the Nissan Leaf was awaiting safety compliance inspection at overflow space that U-Sell provides for third parties like the Nissan’s owners, McPheat said.
MPI staff spent several hours stripping the Nissan to catch the snake, which had slithered back inside the car’s warmer confines. It was eventually found coiled around the engine.
Snake interceptions were “unusual for MPI. We only intercept one or two snakes a year. They are normally not venomous and mostly arrive dead, due to fumigation”, the MPI spokesman said.
Specialist advice the agency received was that most snake species would be unable to survive in New Zealand’s relatively cool climate, especially during the winter, a spokesman said.
“A snake from a cooler area would have a small chance of survival,” and an egg-carrying snake would be “unlikely” to reproduce.
Auckland Zoo reptile curator Richard Gibson said the nearly-metre-long juvenile “likely female” snake was euthanased at Auckland Zoo early Monday afternoon before MPI removed it for destruction.
Gibson wants animal importation laws revisited allowing zoos to keep snakes.
The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 expressly prohibits anyone from importing live snakes into New Zealand.
But Gibson said zoos had an important role in educating people about all animals species and he was is confident Auckland Zoo could safely keep and exhibit venomous and non-venomous snakes.
The zoo already kept highly dangerous animals like tigers, hippopotamus and chimpanzees, he said.