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September 17, 2019

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Lizards alive! Pesky parcels and an arrest

Shanghai Post Office Customs has seized 80 live lizards in two parcels mailed to Shanghai and declared as “gifts” and arrested a man over the incident.

The lizards were identified as green iguana, a large, arboreal, mostly herbivorous species native to Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

It’s the first time Shanghai customs had come across this species, which rapidly reproduces and can cause an invasion of alien species, officers said. It is also listed as a protected animal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The smuggler has been apprehended.

Sniffer dogs indicated the parcels to officers on September 7 and the lizards, all babies around 30 centimeters long, were found inside. A grown green iguana can reach 2 meters.

Due to its bright and beautiful color, green iguanas are becoming increasingly popular. However, their reproductive abilities and adaptation to the local environment could prove harmful to the local ecology.

The following day, customs officers found 23 snakes hidden in packages from Taiwan. The snakes were all dead when discovered. Lizards and snakes can carry parasites or pathogens.

So far this year, Shanghai Post Office Customs has seized 247 live animals in 14 cases.


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