Man and Beast: State Bird Gets the Heave-Ho; Monkeys Go Home; Pythons Morph Into Man-Eaters

Amnesty Day is coming up on October 3, but that's amnesty for you, not for our scaly friends. Owners of exotic reptiles may turn in their anacondas at Gatorland in Orlando, no questions asked. It's time for Spot the reticulated python to find a new home, if he survives the three-hour drive in a sweltering car. Rocky the African rock python receives permanent sanctuary -- and not in your neighbor's garden. 

Those rock pythons are becoming an issue, by the way. The Christian Science Monitor reports that scientists are now concerned that the highly aggressive rock will breed with our kinder, gentler Burmese in the Everglades, producing offspring of real star quality -- the kind of man-eaters only a B-movie director could love.

In response to the new threat, officials are encouraging us to hunt down six reptile species: rock, Burmese, reticulated, and scrub pythons; the green anaconda; and monitor lizards. They've still issued no instructions on how to best dispose of your frozen iguanas.

And in other news: Our state bird prepares for a tough campaign to retain his nest.

Weird factions in the Florida Fish and Wildlife commission want to replace the Florida mockingbird, our native bird, with the more rapacious and less common fish-eating osprey. But the mockingbird has powerful backers. No less than the NRA is behind retaining our scrappy native chatterbox, in the form of lobbyist Marion Hammer, who prefers the mockingbird to either the scrub jay (which, according to Hammer, is no more than a shiftless welfare fraudster) or the ostentatious osprey, which won't inhabit anything less than beachfront property. The mockingbird is a bird of the people!

The Florida Legislature voted in the mockingbird in 1927, and it has since starred in many an endearing short film:

And finally: The squirrel monkeys and parrot stolen by teenagers from the West Palm Beach Zoo last week have been recovered. They were being kept in Tupperware containers on a garage shelf in an abandoned house in Lake Clarke Shores -- although they were found alive, they were less than fresh.  


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