Someone tried to smuggle dozens of animals on an intra-Asia flight, and it backfired…
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Dozens of animals found on VietJet flight
This incident happened on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, and involves a Thai VietJet Air flight from Bangkok (BKK) to Taipei (TPE). Specifically, it involves flight VZ564, which was operated by an Airbus A320, and departed at 3:15PM. At some point during the flight, panic erupted in the cabin, as both an albino rat and otter were spotted on the floor of the cabin.
The crew reportedly requested that the person who brought on the animals identify themselves, but initially no one did. However, eventually a woman did come forward, admitting she was the person who had brought the animals onboard. She reportedly wasn’t apologetic about it, but rather immediately requested a refund for her ticket.
When the plane landed in Taipei, police boarded the aircraft, and searched the passenger’s luggage, including the containers she had checked. In her checked luggage in the cargo hold, the airline found dozens of animals, including 28 turtles, two otters, two rodents, a snake, and a marmot.
It’s believed that the woman may have purchased the animals at a market in Thailand, and was looking to bring them home. However, the motive beyond that isn’t known.
Airport security staff in trouble for not catching animals
One logical question is how exactly the traveler managed to smuggle these animals onto the plane, especially those that were in the carry-on. CCTV footage shows that at around 1:45PM, the carry-on bag passed through an x-ray.
The bag had been pulled aside for further inspection, since one of the workers suspected that a prohibited item might be in the bag. However, the staffer responsible for searching the bag failed to do so, and allowed the bag to pass through.
The airport blames this on human error and a failure to follow procedures, and the staffers responsible for this mistake have been removed from duty immediately, and will face disciplinary and legal action. The airport is warning travelers that trying to smuggle live animals through security is illegal and can lead to jail time and a fine.
What happens to the animals?
So, what happens to all of these animals that are now in Taiwan? According to authorities, the turtles will remain in quarantine, while the other animals will go to Pingtung University of Science and Technology for examination, before being “disposed” of.
I mean, I suppose these animals being sold in markets in Thailand probably didn’t have much of a future anyway, but what a shame it is that this is what ends up happening. How cruel to transport animals this way, not to mention illegally import them into a foreign country.
While we occasionally hear stories of people trying to smuggle animals by plane, it’s almost never dozens of animals at a time. In this case, a traveler smuggled a couple of animals in the cabin, and then dozens of animals in the cargo hold. The animals got loose in the cabin, leading to all of the the traveler’s belongings being searched. No matter how you slice it, this isn’t a good situation…
What do you make of this animal smuggling case?