Americas

2 Canada boys strangled by escaped pet python

A memorial sits outside the Reptile Ocean exotic pet store in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada, on Tuesday, Aug 6, 2013. Photo: AP
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. Photo: Reuters
An African Rock Python (Python sebae) is pictured on display at the Indian River Reptile Zoo in Peterborough, Ontario in this undated handout photo. A four-metre African rock python which strangled two young Canadian boys as they slept has been euthanised. Photo: Reuters
4.3m snake fell onto the boys from the ceiling while they were sleeping
Published: 9:48 PM, August 7, 2013
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TORONTO — A shocked community in Canada planned a vigil today (August 7) for two small boys strangled by 45-kilogram python in their sleep.

Investigators said they were waiting for the results of an autopsy on Noah Barthe, 4 and his brother Connor Barthe, 6, as well as a necropsy on the snake before commenting further on the cause of death. Both have been performed, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Julie Rogers-Marsh said today.

The snake apparently escaped from its enclosure in the building, slithered through a ventilation system and fell through the ceiling into the room where the young boys were sleeping, authorities said yesterday.

A snake expert said it was possible that the African rock python was spooked and simply clung to whatever it landed on. Police are treating the deaths in Campbellton, New Brunswick, as a criminal investigation.

The brothers had been visiting the apartment of a friend whose father owned an exotic pet store on the floor below, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt Alain Tremblay said. Sgt Tremblay said the 4.3-metre snake was being kept inside the apartment, not inside the pet store as authorities had previously stated.

Mr Steve Benteau, a spokesman for the provincial Natural Resources Department, said no permit was issued for an African rock python, and provincial authorities were not aware it was being kept at the apartment. The department said the snake is generally only permitted in accredited zoos, unless there is a special permit.

Sgt Tremblay said the snake was housed in a large glass enclosure that reached the ceiling of the apartment and escaped through a small hole in the ceiling connected to the ventilation system. He said the snake made its way through the ventilation system, the pipe collapsed and the snake fell.

The friend of the boys was sleeping in another room and was unharmed.

The pet store owner, Mr Jean-Claude Savoie, told the Global News television station that he did not hear a sound and discovered the “horrific scene” when he went into his living room on Monday morning.

Police said the snake was killed by a veterinarian. It was sent for a necropsy to confirm the type of snake and help understand what may have caused it to attack.

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