IPOH, Malaysia - The Perak Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has seized a "birthday present" containing a viper, 12 toads and various insects at the post office here.
State Perhilitan director Fakhrul Hatta Musa said the gift-wrapped package with words "Happy Birthday" and Selamat Hari Jadi written all around it had three separate transparent plastic containers to keep the animals and bugs.
"The Malaysian Quarantine Inspection Services Department uncovered the animals with a scanner during a routine check at the post office today (Friday) at about 10.30am.
"We discovered that the animals were kept inside the supposed birthday present," he told a press conference here yesterday.
He said the package, which had been shipped from Taiwan, arrived at the post office on Thursday.
Two of the transparent containers for the reptile and amphibians had holes poked in them to allow air in.
"We believe that the animals were meant to be kept as pets.
The other box contained the insects which are believed to be used as food for the animals.
"We are not sure about the market value for these animals but it is wrong to smuggle them in without permits from the authorities," he said, declining to reveal the address of the recipient.
Fakhrul Hatta added that they would investigate the matter with other agencies.
"The birthday box is a new method used by smugglers to confuse us.
"This is the first time we encountered such modus operandi," he said.
He said anyone found guilty of importing or exporting such animals can be fined a maximum of RM100,000 (S$39,098) for each animal and not more than RM1mil on aggregate.
They could also face a maximum jail term of seven years together with the fine, he added.