It may not have been the first time customs workers discovered that a shipment was mislabeled, but discovering 2,600 live reptiles in an air cargo shipment marked 'fruit' will surely be a day they won't soon forget.
According to a government spokesperson, the cargo, which arrived from Thailand on Tuesday Feb 5, included 2,400 common rat snakes and 200 cobras. While it is not clear why this incident occurred, it came at an interesting time, just days before the beginning of the Chinese horoscope's Year of the Snake, according to Digital Spy. The shipment also comes just one month after $1 million "worth of endangered seahorses and crocodile meat was caught being smuggled into Hong Kong".
This story begs the question, what was the purpose of all those snakes being shipped to the city? That may never be known. However, given the fact that the legless lizards are a delicacy in Chinese food, the serpents could have been intended for the same fate as the phantom fruit that was supposed to be in shipment. Although, as Doubtful News points out, cobras are considered toxic.
The maximum fine for smuggling cargo into Hong Kong is the equivalent of $250,000. Additionally, a prison term of up to seven years can also be enforced for the crime.
It's likely that Hong Kong customs won't be shocked by anything after this.
A black rat snake. Photo by Patrick Coin. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons