Decision to be made today about Mustard

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."


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