State

Unwanted pythons retire in Jupiter after import ban

A retirement home for Burmese pythons has been established in northern Palm Beach County, now that the federal government has banned imports and interstate commerce in the snakes.

The Burmese Python Initiative has been set up by a group of reptile dealers and hobbyists concerned that owners may abandon their snakes if their owners go off to college or take any step that would involve a move to another state. The organization plans to use the facility as a temporary haven and adoption service for the pythons and two other newly banned species, the African rock python and yellow anaconda.

The home is a private facility in Jupiter licensed to keep pythons and other reptiles, owned by Kenan Harkin, a former bicycle motorcross competitor, television sports commentator and reptile enthusiast.

"We're really trying to take care of these animals," said Billy Leonard, an employee of Ben Siegel Reptiles of Deerfield Beach, which helped sponsor the organization and donated $150 worth of frozen rodents. "Our concern is with all these pets in households all over the country. We want to give options to people to not dump them in a wooded area or in the Everglades or euthanize them."

For more information, go to savetheburms.org.

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