Release: November 7, 2005
ILLEGAL ANIMAL CAPTURED ON OMNI FLIGHT FROM LAS VEGAS
HONOLULU - A live marsupial called a sugar glider was captured by a passenger on board an Omni Airline flight from Las Vegas that was bound for Honolulu International Airport this morning.
Passengers on Omni Flight 108 reported spotting what was initially believed to be a monkey running loose in the cabin of the airplane. A passenger caught the animal and a flight attendant placed it in a box. Ground crews were notified of the capture and inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) were waiting at the gate when the plane arrived at 11:55 a.m.
The animal was later identified by agricultural inspectors as a sugar glider. The animal measures 10 inches from nose to tail and is gray and white with black stripes down the back.
Sugar gliders, Petaurus breviceps, are strictly prohibited in Hawaii. Passengers were held on the aircraft until the animal was secured and interviews were conducted with two passengers and a flight attendant. Inspectors are investigating how the animal got on board the aircraft. The animal appeared tame; however, no passengers claimed the animal.
Sugar gliders are small marsupials and are native to Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea.
The animal is being safeguarded at the Plant Quarantine Branch and will be sent out of state as soon as arrangements can be made. Because of its prohibited status, even municipal zoos are not allowed to display the animal.
Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail. Individuals with illegal pets are encouraged to voluntarily turn them in under the department's Amnesty Program, which offers immunity from prosecution. Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department's PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).
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