A recent headline – “Primate in Pants” – was good for a laugh, but smuggling animals on aircraft is anything but funny. In this particular incident, a man at New Delhi’s airport was reportedly smuggling a slender loris, which is a tiny, big-eyed furry little creature that looks something like a cross between a monkey and a sloth. More to the point, the animal is on an endangered species list.
Animals Put in Danger
Other rare animals have been found on passengers at U.S. airports like Miami, where a man was discovered last spring attempting to smuggle live eels and other marine life (including living coral). Endangered birds have been intercepted as well, including two at Los Angeles International that had been stuffed in socks then taped to a passenger’s body. The birds were freed after they were discovered during a TSA pat-down.
- Buenos Aires: Checked-bag found with 247 live snakes, reptiles and mollusks
- Auckland: Man is discovered with 44 small lizards stuffed in his underwear
The latter case raises an interesting question: How did this individual think he’d endure the flight with all those geckos and skinks in his pants?
Worst Non-Animal Smuggling Attempts
Although the TSA isn’t looking animals – or even drugs – their screening devices can and do detect such items as occurred last fall when a passenger was discovered with several boxes, all gaily gift-wrapped and be-ribboned, and all filled with marijuana.
However, first prize for unusual smuggling has to go to the two women who attempted to wheel an old man aboard a plane at Liverpool’s airport. Only problem was, the man was dead. They’d done their best: the corpse was properly clothed, even wearing a nice pair of sunglasses but an airline employee figured it out when the wheelchair-bound figure’s head slumped against him. “It was ice cold,” said the shocked attendant. No foul play was suspected, but the body was not allowed in the cabin.
Snakes on a Plane
No report on animals and air travel would be complete without an example of snakes on a plane which leads us to the story of the Australian pilot who – while in midair – noticed a large snake in the cockpit. It was difficult not to since the creature kept “popping its head out from the instrument panel”. Our intrepid aviator ultimately decided to land the plane (and did so safely) after the snake began crawling down his leg.