Acres slams pest control for manhandling python at Jurong West with 'total disregard for animal welfare'

Harrowing experience for both humans and python.

Zhangxin Zheng | September 10, 2020, 04:10 PM

Reticulated pythons are native to Singapore.

Living in an urbanised country also means they will be occasionally spotted in the drains or areas where they can find preys such as rats.

One python was found in the neighbourhood area at Jurong West Avenue 1 recently.

A pest control company, Star Pest Control, was called to handle the snake in the drain.

Pest control staff tussle with python at Jurong West

The entire process was recorded by onlookers.

The three men tussled with the animal for at least five minutes before tucking it into a bag that appeared too small for this operation.

One of the staff was spotted stepping on the python with his full weight.

Here's how the Acres wildlife rescue team did it.

The other two staff also had a hard time grappling with the animal throughout the operation.

Another man was behind the camera giving instructions.

Here's the video in full:

Acres: Horrific handling and treatment of a snake

In response to Mothership's queries, the deputy chief executive officer of animal rescue group Acres, Kalai Vanan, condemned the way the python was handled in this case.

He said:

"This is yet another case of horrific handling and treatment of a snake by a pest control company. In the video, you can see the total disregard for animal welfare as the animal is stepped on with full weight and tugged aggressively."

As Singapore moves towards a City in A Garden, Kalai added that it is inevitable for wildlife to be spotted in green spaces or areas around green spaces.

Kalai also urged all wildlife to be treated equally and called for greater deterrence against the mistreatment of reptiles which are not as popular among people, like otters for example.

"Will any of us tolerate if this happened to other protected animals like otters and macaques or is it that improper handling of reptiles can be tolerated as they aren't seen as being cute?

The Wildlife Act treats all protected wildlife equally, so should be the enforcement action. Sadly, many cases of abusing snakes or monitor lizards have often resulted only in issue of advisory. We sincerely hope that this changes for better deterrence."

He added that there is a "pressing need" for people in Singapore to treat animals with compassion and questioned if pest control company should be called upon to handle pythons in this case, as they are wild animals coexisting with us.

"As Singapore evolves into a biophillic city, there is a pressing need for us to treat animals in our community with compassion.

Having pest control companies handle protected wild animals simply does not align with promoting coexistence. It is alarming that without a video evidence, many such cases do not surface, making regulation of the industry more complex than it is."

NParks investigating the incident, python has been relocated to a forest

In response to Mothership's queries, the director of Wildlife Management & Outreach department at the National Parks Board (NParks), How Choon Beng, confirmed that NParks was alerted to the case.

NParks' vets have performed a health assessment on the python that was removed and found it to be unhurt.

The animal has since been relocated to a forest.

"We are looking into the feedback with the company and are currently investigating the incident," How said.

How also added that the animal management industry has been upskilled through a new Animal Management Professional Certification Programme so that the professionals can be better equipped to handle the animals, taking public safety, personnel safety and animal welfare into consideration.

The first course run of the basic module started in August 2020. Personnel in the animal management industry will learn about reptiles in the intermediate elective module.

How encouraged all animal management companies to attend these courses to understand how to handle wildlife.

Reticulated pythons play important role in ecosystem

Reticulated pythons are actually shy creatures which will typically try to slither away from humans.

They will not attack unless disturbed or provoked.

Pythons in Singapore play an important role by keeping the population of pests such as rodents low.

If you happen to encounter a python in your neighbourhood, do stay calm and keep a distance.

You can call NParks' Animal Response Centre at 1800 476 1600 or Acres at 9783 7782 for help.

You can read more in the advisory found here.

Mothership has reached out to Star Pest Control for comments.

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Top images via video screenshot