When it comes to sneaking reptiles onto airplanes, animal smugglers can sure get creative. But instead of adding insult to injury by stuffing them in his underwear, or packing them by the dozens into suitcases -- one man in China took a decidedly fast-foodier approach in an attempt to get a turtle on board.
He disguised it as a hamburger.
According to the South China Morning Post, a man named Li was stopped on Monday as he passed through security at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport after screeners noticed “odd protrusions” in a bag purporting to contain a burger from KFC. Upon closer inspection however, authorities noticed what appeared to be the legs of animal emerging from a wrapped-up sandwiched inside.
"There’s no turtle in there, just a hamburger," Li is reported to have said. "There's nothing special to see inside."
There was, of course, something special to see inside. And yes, it was in fact a turtle.
Li insists that his smuggling scheme was not as nefarious as it might have appeared, but was rather an ill-conceived attempt to travel with his cherished pet. Airport staff evidently were satisfied with this explanation and Li was allowed to board after he found a friend to turtle-sit for him as he traveled.
Although this appears to be a rather innocuous case of attempted animal smuggling, most folks caught with illicit, living cargo are doing so out of greed. The trade in rare and exotic wildlife, which can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market, continues to imperil the long-term survival of species in the wild. Earlier this year, for example, a man in Thailand was arrested trying to enter the country with 54 ploughshare tortoises -- accounting for an astonishing 10 percent of the total number of these animals in existence.