CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick (AP) — Wildlife crews were preparing Thursday to remove more than a dozen animals from an exotic pet store in Canada, days after two boys were asphyxiated by an African rock python in an apartment upstairs.
Bruce Dougan, the manager of the Magnetic Hill Zoo in New Brunswick, said it could take two days to safely remove 16 animals that the shop didn’t have permits for. Dougan, who is helping in the removal, says there are four large alligators, six crocodiles and some tortoises, turtles and snakes. He said most of the animals will be taken to an Ontario zoo.
Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor, 6, were found dead Monday morning after the snake escaped from its glass enclosure. They were sleeping in the apartment of the pet store owner, a family friend. The python was being kept inside the apartment, not the store.
New Brunswick’s Natural Resources Department has obtained a warrant to search the store and said if any illegal animals are found, they would be seized and relocated to accredited zoos. The apartment and store are owned by Jean-Claude Savoie, a family friend of the boys who took them shopping and to a farm before hosting a sleepover Sunday along with his son. Savoie could not be reached for comment.
Citing preliminary results of autopsies on the boys, police say the children were asphyxiated by the African rock python. Police said the snake slithered through a ventilation system but fell through a ceiling and into the living room where the boys slept.
Since 1992, the African rock python has been banned in New Brunswick unless a permit is obtained. Only accredited zoos can obtain such a permit, said Anne Bull, a spokeswoman for the province’s Natural Resources Department. Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, the only nationally recognized body in the country that grants accreditation for zoos, said Reptile Ocean was never accredited nor requested accreditation.
Yet Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Environment Canada, said the snake was abandoned at a local SPCA in New Brunswick in 2002 and federal wildlife officials assisted with relocating the python to the pet store in 2002.
A funeral service for the boys is scheduled for Saturday.