Thais Bust Man With Rare Animals at Airport

An Indonesian man was arrested at the airport in Bangkok, Thailand for trying to smuggle so many rare animals it sounds like he had a small zoo stuffed in his luggage.

Authorities found dozens of snakes, spiders, squirrels and tortoises among hundreds of live creatures in the man's three black suitcases. There was even a live parrot.

The 34-year-old would-be smuggler was at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, leaving Thailand, when he was stopped after regular luggage scanning showed images of animals, according to international wildlife monitoring group Traffic.

The unidentified man had earlier gone on what the group calls in a statement "a wildlife shopping spree."

The suspect, from Surabaya in Indonesia, admitted he made the purchases at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, a major hub for rare species trade, the group says. The man was detained by police and faces a number of charges.

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"One really has to question how Chatuchak Market, which is located just down the street from both Wildlife Protection and Nature Crime Police Offices, can continue these illegal mass sales," says Traffic regional director William Schaedla. "The situation is totally unacceptable in a country that claims to be effectively addressing illegal wildlife trade."

Included in the man's haul was a Ploughshare Tortoise, which Traffic says is the worlds' rarest tortoise.

There were also 88 Indian Star Tortoises, 33 Elongated Tortoises, seven Radiated Tortoises, six Mata Mata Turtles, four Southeast Asian Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle, three Aldabra Tortoises and one Pig-nosed Turtle.

Traffic says alongside these, the man packed 34 Ball Pythons, two Boa Constrictors, several Milk Snakes, Corn Snakes and King Snakes and a Hog-nosed Snake, as well as 19 Bearded Dragons, four Spiny-tailed Lizards, two Sunda Plated Lizards, six Argentine Horned Frogs.

The man had also managed to stuff into his luggage 18 Baboon Spiders, each in its own plastic container, 22 Common Squirrels and one African Grey Parrot.

In a smuggling incident at the same airport in August, a drugged baby tiger cub was found hidden among stuffed animals in a suitcase.

Photo, AFP/Getty Images
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