6-foot tropical snake uninvited guest at memorial service
The red tail boa constrictor was found near a parking area at Hershey Cemetery in Pennsylvania as guests gathered for a service.
Mon, May 09, 2011 at 2:21 PM
WILD PET: The snake was likely a pet that was released, and it was suffering from a minor respiratory ailment, likely having spent several nights in conditions unlike its natural habitat in the rainforests of South America. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
PITTSBURGH - Authorities on Monday sought the owner of a 6-foot long tropical snake which showed up uninvited at a Pennsylvania cemetery memorial service.
The red tail boa constrictor was found near a parking area at Hershey Cemetery in central Pennsylvania's Dauphin County as guests gathered on Friday afternoon, said Rachel Dinbokowitz, a spokeswoman for ZooAmerica, a local wildlife park that sent workers to capture the reptile.
"It wasn't aggressive," she said. "They took it back to the zoo and held it overnight."
The snake was handed over on Saturday to Forgotten Friend, a reptile sanctuary.
"You're talking about a tropical animal being released in the cold Pennsylvania spring," said Jesse Rothacker, the organization's president. "I'd expect this was a case of someone got tired of their pet and let them go."
The boa constrictor was suffering from a minor respiratory ailment, likely having spent several nights in conditions unlike its natural habitat in the rainforests of South America, he said. Releasing such an animal into the wild was tantamount to animal cruelty, he said.
If an owner does not emerge, the snake will be put up for adoption, Rothacker said. The sanctuary already has three other boa constrictors available for adoption, he added.
Police said they did not know where the snake had come from or how it got into the cemetery.
"It wouldn't be unusual to see a garter snake, but a 6-foot boa is a little unheard of," said Derry Township Police Chief Patrick O'Rourke.
A representative of the cemetery did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
(Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)