Pythons and Pigeons on Planes? Oh, My!

October 3, 2011 | By Kristen Seymour | Category: Travel | 1 comment
Tags: strange but true, travel, lifestyle & trends

Certain exotic animals ruffle feathers at international airports.

Have you ever gone through the security line at an airport and wondered what kind of highly unusual items officials may have confiscated? Chances are, regardless of how vivid your imagination, it doesn't compare to what's being housed at any given time at London's Heathrow Airport.

The Heathrow Animal Reception Center handles the processing of all animals passing through, and serves as the temporary (and, occasionally, permanent) home for repossessed reptiles and other appropriated animals ranging from pythons and turtles, to pigeons, lemurs, monkeys and bats, and even clouded snow leopards and baby rhinos. And that's not even including the thousands of dogs and cats the Center processes and houses during six-month quarantine before being allowed into the United Kingdom, reports the Mirror (UK).

Often, the processing of an animal is quite straightforward (i.e. mandatory quarantine), but there are several cases that are far more interesting, such as the 160 tortoises that were seized after the staff found their age didn't match the age on the accompanying paperwork -- they'll now be rehomed to tortoise retirement homes and rescue shelters. And you can't forget the 200 fruit bats that made a stop there on the way from Uganda to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga.

While many of the animals, that are confiscated, like the tortoises, are found safe homes, a few remain there permanently, like a Burmese python, some Taiwanese beauty snakes and an African rock python, all of which are used in training police and other officials who may come into contact with dangerous snakes, reports the Mirror.

The City of London Corporation owns and manages the Center and is quick to point out the superior conditions the animals are held in, claiming them to be equal to or better than any other similar facility in the world. Temperature, lighting, and, in some cases, humidity, is controlled to accommodate the different types of animals, and special care is taken in providing proper nutrition for each species.

The next time you're traveling and assume the roar you just heard was from an unhappy customer, you might want to give it a second thought!

Have you ever heard of an exotic animal traveling by plane? How do your pets react to traveling? Tell us below!

Comments (1)

add comment


4 years ago

Well this is how they have to get these exotic animals to zoo's all over the world, but this does remind me of the movie snakes on a plane I mean what would really happen if a bunch of venmous snakes in the cargo department of a plane escaped while the plane was in flight.

Good Point | Reply ›

Add Your Comment

Already have an account? Log in now for faster commenting or Join Zootoo


You might also enjoy:

Top Stories

We’ve all grown accustomed to the many fundraisers and charitable events that the pet industry produces for homeless pets. From pet food companies… more ›

Helping Pet Rescues is Good For Business