Customs officials have discovered a man smuggling 74 protected species of chameleons stuffed into socks and ice cream boxes in a suitcase at Vienna International Airport.
The man, who was initially travelling from Tanzania via the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, tried to hide the lizards in his luggage but was discovered after his suitcase was X-rayed.
Officials managed to find 74 protected species of chameleons, whose black market value is valued at around EUR 37,000 (GBP 32,000), and most were in good health although two had died en route.
The man was immediately arrested while the boxes of chameleons were brought to Schoenbrunn Zoo so they could be given appropriate accommodation and a veterinary examination.
The chameleons, which included a one-week-old youngster, are said to be in good shape and now living in proper terrariums where environmental conditions are provided to meet their needs.
Zoo experts claimed the chameleons come from the Usambara Mountains, a cold and rainy region of Tanzania, and were supposed to find their place on the Czech black market.
The suspect is now facing criminal proceedings and a fine of up to EUR 6,000.
Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said in a statement that he is happy that the customs officers could contribute to ending animal suffering and support animal welfare including supporting the preservation of rare species such as these.
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Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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