Canada police euthanize illegal snake that attacked boys

Tue Aug 6, 2013 5:40pm EDT
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By Cameron French

(Reuters) - A four-meter (13-foot) African rock python which strangled two young Canadian boys as they slept has been euthanized, police said on Tuesday, as authorities examined what happened and why the snake - illegal in the province of New Brunswick - attacked.

Noah and Connor Barthe, aged 4 and 6, died early Monday after the 45-kg (100 lbs) snake escaped from its glass cage through a ventilation shaft, slithered through ductwork and crashed through the ceiling into the room where they were sleeping.

Police have launched a criminal investigation into the two deaths, which prompted headlines in Canada and beyond and sparked questions about rules on keeping exotic pets.

"It's a criminal investigation because two young boys lost their lives," Alain Tremblay, a sergeant with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told a news conference.

He said it would take time to gather evidence to present to a prosecutor.

The boys were at a sleepover at the apartment, above the Reptile Ocean exotic pet store in Campbellton, a city of about 7,500 in Canada's maritime province of New Brunswick.

Initial reports said the snake escaped from the store into the residence, but police said on Tuesday it was being held in a glass enclosure in the same apartment as the two children.

"(The enclosure) went right up to the ceiling, but inside there was a small hole that was connected to the ventilation system," said Tremblay.   Continued...

Police stand in front of the Reptile Ocean store in Campbellton, New Brunswick August 5, 2013 after an incident in which an African rock python escaped its enclosure, got into the store's ventilation system and apparently strangled two young boys as they slept. REUTERS/Tim Jaques/The Tribune/Telegraph Journal