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Snakes seized from serpent-handling pastor euthanized

Jan. 21, 2014 at 1:54 PM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- More than a dozen venomous snakes seized from a serpent-handling Tennessee pastor were euthanized, state wildlife authorities said.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency confiscated 55 snakes from Andrew Hamlin of the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette in November. Hamlin was cited for having animals dangerous to humans, but was not indicted on criminal charges.

The snakes were taken to the Knoxville Zoo, but those that did not die of pathogen-borne illness were euthanized Monday.

The euthanized snakes were "highly suspected of being infected with the same pathogens that have proven fatal for the other 39 snakes brought to us ... this is due to the overcrowded conditions they were being kept in, prior to their arrival at Knoxville Zoo," the zoo's Michael Ogle said.

The wildlife agency had a court order giving it ownership of the snakes, and officials gave the order Monday to euthanize the remaining snakes, WBIR-TV, Knoxville, reported.

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