Outrage over video of pest control company staff throwing snake

PHOTO: YouTube screengrabs

A video of a pest control company employee apparently mistreating a snake has sparked outrage among animal lovers, including Member of Parliament Louis Ng.

In the video, which was posted online, a man wearing a PestBusters shirt is seen conducting what seems to be a training session on handling a snake.

He steps on the snake and uses metal tongs to restrain the reptile, which he throws on the ground after someone says in Malay: "Tired lah, just throw."

When The New Paper contacted PestBusters yesterday, a spokesman said the video is outdated and the footage was not taken at a training session.

He added: "All our training videos are recorded, and this incident was not in our records. There is a specific team in charge of handling snakes, and what is seen in the video is not how we handle snakes. We definitely do not throw the snakes around. It's wrong."

He said the man in the video was a junior staff member at the time of the incident and was not trained to handle snakes.

"The man has now taken up a senior position, and when confronted, he said he has no recollection of the incident," the spokesman said.

"We are working with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to investigate this."

An AVA spokesman said the case is under investigation. AVA has issued guidelines on the proper handling of snakes to pest control and wildlife management agencies in Singapore.

Mr Ng, who shared the video on Facebook, said it was "completely unacceptable".

He said: "A couple of people sent me the links and when I saw it, I was horrified. People are genuinely scared of snakes, but even so they know that this isn't how a snake should be handled."

Describing the actions as animal abuse, some experts called for the company to be penalised.

Mr Kalai Vanan, the deputy chief executive of animal welfare charity Acres, said: "The handling is wrong, cruel and extremely disturbing."

He urged the public to call the Acres wildlife rescue hotline at 97837782 for help, instead of pest control firms which may not know the correct way to handle animals.

Mr Sankar Ananthanarayanan, 24, who co-founded The Herpetological Society of Singapore, said: "This is apparent abuse with no respect shown to the animal.

"There should be clear guidelines on how to handle snakes that prioritise animal welfare and the handler's safety."

He said the python's sluggishness meant it was in distress.

Wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai said: "In my 30 years of handling snakes, I never once had to put a foot on a snake or throw them. Such abusive practices have no place in Singapore."

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.