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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Do you remember when we reported on that man who was caught smuggling 18 endangered monkeys in his underpants? Well it turns out that monkeys aren’t the only animals being smuggled. You’d never believe the kinds of creatures that people try to get past airline security!

We really thought the monkey escapade took the cake for animal smuggling stories but we’ve found some more that are really quite incredible (rather unbelievable). So here we go, these are the top 5 animal smuggling busts we’ve come across.

Otters in Bangkok


Officers at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport were surprised when they opened a piece of luggage left unclaimed at the oversized baggage area. Inside were 11 live otters, six smooth-coated otters and five oriental small-clawed otters. The first species are the largest otters in Southeast Asia while the small-clawed ones are the world’s smallest otters and are under threat. Demand for otter pelts and organs is high and environmental pollution is destroying their habitats.

Hummingbirds in French Guiana


We’re not quite sure what a particular Dutchman had in mind as he tried to smuggle more than a dozen hummingbirds in his trousers as he boarded a flight from an airport in French Guiana. Apparently the man wrapped each bird in a cloth and then hid them in a pouch sewn into the waist of his trousers and then even taped them to stop them from escaping. The man’s excessive fidgeting was enough to alert the French authorities and discover the birds.

Crazy crocodiles in the Congo


You’d kind of expect to find crocodiles in the Congo but we really think they should stay there! But no… someone tried to smuggle a crocodile on a domestic flight in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2010. The croc got out of its duffel bag, wreaked havoc on the passengers and crew and caused the plane to crash, killing 20 of the 21 passengers onboard. There was as sole survivor to tell the tale. Oh, and the crocodile survived the crash as well.

Read more about this story on our post Aeroplane crashes after crocodile escapes.

Creepy crawlies in Argentina


Exotic animal salesman is apparently a real job title (although probably not a legal one). One such salesmen attempted to transport 247 reptiles and spiders but was caught by the airport x-ray machine as he was leaving on his flights to Spain from Argentina in 2011. The exotic and endangered species included boa constrictors, pit vipers and assorted spiders (eek!) packed neatly in plastic boxes, bags and socks.

Big baby Cats in Bangkok


We can’t even believe this one! A man was stopped in Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi Airport (popular place for animal smuggling apparently) on his way to Dubai with two baby leopards and two baby panthers in his suitcases as well as an Asiatic black bear and two macaque monkeys. That’s practically a small zoo! Fortunately for these adorable creatures he didn’t make it past security.

Imgs: wikimedia and Mikebaird / Flickr cc.

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