Rare snake, four other reptiles stolen from zoo in Bonita Springs

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Hera, an albino red-tail boa constrictor. Credit: Everglades Wonder Gardens.

Someone took five reptiles from the Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs recently. The curator noticed locks were cut, and three snakes and two tortoises were missing. One of the snakes is very rare and is considered an animal ambassador for the zoo.

Everglades Wonder Gardens is offering a $1,000 reward for any information to get their reptiles back here to their home. And Thomas Hecker is playing pet detective.

“We’re looking back at cameras that we do have to see if we caught anything, and then cameras in the neighborhood,” Hecker said.

After someone stole three snakes and two tortoises from the zoo, Hecker says the locks to their exhibits were found broken Wednesday morning.

“So it’s either for the thrill of it,” Hecker said. “Or, you know, in Hera’s case, she is more of a designer snake, where they inbreed snakes to get certain colors. She definitely is worth more than the other one.”

Hera is an albino red-tail boa constrictor, a rare specimen. But Hecker says it’s hard to put a price tag on Hera. He says Everglades Wonder Gardens was her home, and she was their connection to the community.

Hecker said they are monitoring Craigslist and other websites where people sell live animals. So far, there are no leads, but they’re hoping the reward encourages someone to come forward.

“Staff is pretty upset because they love and care for these animals seven days a week,” Hecker said. “Hera especially because she’s been here longer than any of us, and she was our animal ambassador that we took everywhere.”

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