Batemans Bay Birdland snakes stolen

STOLEN SNAKES: Fiona Lemke and Charli Berry, of Benalla, and Birdland head keeper Karen Best enjoy contact with a remaining snake after three were stolen on Monday.

STOLEN SNAKES: Fiona Lemke and Charli Berry, of Benalla, and Birdland head keeper Karen Best enjoy contact with a remaining snake after three were stolen on Monday.

In another devastating raid, thieves have netted snakes from a beleaguered Batemans Bay animal park.

Birdland staff said two diamond pythons and one central carpet python were stolen from their night enclosures on Monday. 

The snakes, aged 18-months, eight years and 14 years are believed to be worth a total of $2000.  

The theft follows that of more than 50 birds in September and a raid in May 2013 which netted six snakes and three birds.

Staff today said Monday's thieves jumped a fence and cut a chain to the snake pen. 

Birdland head ranger Karen Best said staff were distressed. 

“The trauma that has been caused to the animals is unbelievable too,” Ms Best said. “All the people that come and support the park are shocked."

She said the robbery wasn’t just about money.

“It’s the emotional and traumatic value to both the humans and the animals,” Ms Best said. “You cannot put a price it.”

The snakes are part of the park's interactive displays and children's education sessions. 

“As it warms up, we educate the children about venomous snakes,” Ms Best said. “We present them to the kids and explain the different idiosyncrasies.

“They establish a respect for them and know that they are not to go near any poisonous snakes.”

Ms Best made an impassioned plea for the snakes' return. She feared they would not survive without experienced carers.

“They will not surive under uneducated care," she said. "They need a heated, humid environment. 

“Letting them get too hot is also an issue and the feeding is just so specific for snakes. It’s not an inanimate object they are stealing. It’s a live animal and it really needs to be cared for."

As head keeper, Ms Best said she loved the reaction of children who came into contact with the snakes. 

“I love the interaction,” she said.  “There are lots of places now that you can’t touch the animals. Birdland is all about the interaction with the kids and the animals and creating awareness and education.

“The joy that these animals bring to so many people is phenomenal. It’s just great to see the expressions on people's faces when they touch the snakes.” 

For security reasons, the snakes are not left in their day pens overnight. 

“We have them in a secure night pen,” Ms Best said. “The people who have done this have inside knowledge and know the lay of the land. They target what they want and leave.”

The park still has two snakes on display. 

Police investigations into both robberies are continuing. Anyone with information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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