The future of Mustard, the albino python who bit zookeeper Walter Bonyun on Thursday afternoon, is to be discussed at a meeting this morning where a decision will be made on whether she will continue to be one of the zoo's ambassadors. This was confirmed to the Guardian Media a short while ago by the zoo's curator Nirmal Biptah.
For several years Mustard has been part of the petting zoo and exhibition cross country where children and adults are allowed to touch her, hold her and take photographs with her.
The incident occurred shortly after midday on Thursday in Mustard's enclosure. She was at the time being viewed through its glass showcase by several children and accompanying adults. The Zoological Society of T&T (ZSTT) subsequently confirmed the authenticity of a video that has been widely shared on social media.
In a statement, the ZSTT said the incident took place just after the zookeeper placed food for the python.
"With the door still open, the python grabbed the midsection of the zookeeper," the release stated.
In keeping with the protocol of always having two zookeepers present during feeding, a second zookeeper was able to intervene, pull away the python and secure it, and assist his colleague in getting medical attention.
The ZSTT said: "A full investigation is underway. The Emperor Valley Zoo assures that there was no danger to the public. The Zoological Association of America, of which the ZSTT is a member, has been notified and would also review the incident."
Bonyun told the T&T Guardian he has been bitten numerous times by different species of snakes over the 27 years he has been working at the zoo.
Offering advice on what to do if bitten by a snake, he said: “Make sure the wound is free from bacteria.
Use an alcohol-based substance and clean the wound. Snakes carry bacteria in their saliva that causes an infection that may be bad. The teeth of snakes are very smooth and don’t rupture tissues and rip out the flesh which is something you don’t have to worry about too.”
Zoo officials said Bonyun is "doing fine. He sustained a superficial wound and he will be all right."