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43 venomous snakes and 45 other reptiles seized at Vienna International Airport Traveller at Vienna Airport even smuggled protected species

Schwechat (APA) - Customs officers at Vienna Airport in Schwechat have seized 43 venomous snakes and 45 other reptiles discovered in a passenger's luggage. According to the Austrian Finance Ministry, an Austrian national living in the Philippines admitted that he had intended to sell on the animals – twenty of which are protected species – at a reptile fair in Germany.

The passenger had flown into Vienna from Manila via Doha on Sunday. The suspicions of customs officers proved justified, confirmed the Finance Ministry, as reported in Thursday's edition of the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung. "The image produced during an x-ray scan already suggested to customs officers that live animals were contained in the suitcase."

In the end, the Austrian expat admitted to carrying poisonous snakes. "Experts from Schönbrunn Zoo were then brought in," reported the Ministry. They discovered two Samar cobras and 18 Asian water monitors, which are protected species, as well as other, non-protected, venomous snakes and geckos, including a coral snake, bamboo vipers, brown Philippine adders and mangrove night tree adders.

The reptiles were taken in by Schönbrunn Zoo and by the Happ Reptile Zoo in Klagenfurt. Administrative penalty proceedings have been instituted against the Austrian expat for a breach of the Austrian Act governing International Trade in Endangered Animal and Plant Species and for smuggling under the Fiscal Offences Act.