Shelter for unwanted Fla. Burmese Pythons opens

Feb. 3, 2012 at 3:34 PM
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JUPITER, Fla., Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Reptile dealers and hobbyists in Florida say they've set up a "retirement home" for Burmese Pythons following a U.S. ban on imports and sales of the snakes.

The Burmese Python Initiative has been set up in Palm Beach County out of concern owners may abandon their snakes if they have to move out of state for any reason, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Friday.

The organization said its facility will serve as a temporary shelter and adoption service for pythons and two other species, the African rock python and yellow anaconda, subject to the recently enacted federal ban.

"We're really trying to take care of these animals," said Billy Leonard of Ben Siegel Reptiles of Deerfield Beach, which helped sponsor the organization and donated $150 worth of frozen rodents as food for the snake.

"Our concern is with all these pets in households all over the country. We want to give options to people to not dump them in a wooded area or in the Everglades or euthanize them."

Kenan Harkin, a former bicycle motocross competitor, television sports commentator and reptile enthusiast, operates the facility in Jupiter that is licensed to keep pythons and other reptiles.

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