A KISS from a snake turned into a horror for a Chinese tourist in Phuket over the weekend, prompting official action on venues that attract tourists with animal exhibitions.
A viral video clip on YouTube captured the 29-year-old female tourist bending down to touch the python with her nose. The reptile, apparently spooked, suddenly bit her nose causing her to scream in pain and shock.
The woman received eight stitches at Phuket International Hospital and has already returned to her home country.
The incident prompted police and Phuket Tourism and Sports official Santi Pawai to investigate Phuket Biotechnology's office in Tambon Chalong Muang Phuket, which draws tourists with a snake show and products derived from snakes.
Kritiporn Phumkunchorn, general manager of the company, said the bite was an accident. The tourist had tried to kiss the three-year-old, 1.5-metre-long snake, which was often featured in tourists' souvenir photos.
The company took the woman to hospital, covered her medical bills and came to a settlement with her over compensation, Kritiporn said.
The company - which has operated for two years without any similar problems reported - will temporarily suspend operations and train staff in safety measures, she added.
Operators of animal-show |venues in Phuket will also be summoned to outline long-term safety measures at a meeting on Thursday, Santi said.
Initially, business operators will be asked to ensure tourists do not get too close to the animals, he added.
The Conservation Area Management Office 5 (Nakhon Si Thammarat) affirmed that the company had a licence to keep the animal, but the office will launch a full investigation today, said Thongchai Thongboonyang, a wildlife protection official with the office.
He said Phuket had only five or six venues featuring snake shows for tourists, and that his office only issued licences to possess the animals on |the condition that companies would not put them on show unless they received local authorities' permission.