Spider surprise: Customs seizes 750 smuggled tarantulas in Philippines
This undated handout photo received from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on April 3, 2019 shows a customs officer examining a tarantula seized by customs officers at the Manila international airport. Over 757 live tarantulas were confiscated in the Philippines, authorities said on April 3, in a latest case of illegal wildlife trafficking in the Southeast Asian nation.
Cris Peregrino/Bureau of Customs/AFP
Spider surprise: Customs seizes 750 smuggled tarantulas in Philippines
(Agence France-Presse) - April 3, 2019 - 8:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine authorities said Wednesday they cracked open a gift-wrapped package shipped from Poland to discover 757 tarantulas crammed into plastic containers.

The illicit payload found at a mail facility near Manila's airport was the latest seizure in a nation that is a major source and transit point of wildlife trafficking.  

Customs thought the package suspicious and after opening it found boxes for cookies, oatmeal and tea. Yet the cartons contained dozens of plastic containers packed with arachnids. 

The seized tarantulas — priced at about $5,700 — are frequently sold to hobbyists as pets, Arnel Matreo, chief of the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told AFP.

Matreo said two people who tried to claim the package were detained on charges of violating wildlife protection and customs laws.

Customs officials turned over the tarantulas to the DENR's rescue center, which will take charge of the animals and identify its species.  

The seizure comes about a month after authorities said they had seized about 1,500 exotic turtles, some of which were restrained with duct tape, crammed into a passenger's bag at Manila airport.

READ: 1,500 turtles seized at NAIA

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