A story that involves a crystal meth lab, a drug-addicted python, and a New South Wales prison sounds dubious, but this is actually an aww-inducing story of rescue and rehabilitation.
When Australian police in New South Wales busted a crystal meth lab last year, there were certain things they expected to find and take away with them: Equipment, cash, and plenty of narcotics. A drug-addicted, snappy 1.8-meter (6-foot) python was not one of them.
It’s not unusual for criminals to use snakes to protect their stashes and scare off any (more) ne’er-do-wells, but when the snake acted aggressively to the police and later animal handlers, they suspected that after it had been cooped up in the lab and exposed to the methamphetamine particles, they were probably dealing with a disgruntled drug-addict.
The python, who “cannot be named for legal reason”, was checked into a prison rehabilitation facility to dry out at the Corrective Services NSW Wildlife Care Centre, just outside Sydney, and, after seven months recuperating under the watchful eyes of inmates in the medium-security prison, is said to recovering well, having returned to normal behavior.
The John Morony Correctional Complex offers a selective wildlife care program, which has been running for 20 years, that also helps rehabilitate inmates. It is thought that around 250 animals have been cared for at the minimum-security prison, including other reptiles rescued from raids, kangaroos, possums, and birds.
"What we see with the men in our care in their approach to animals is that it softens them and it humanizes them," prison governor Ivan Calder told the BBC. "Giving the inmates the opportunity to care and take responsibility for animals is a major enabler in their rehabilitation and a major agent for behaviour change."
A roster of 14 inmates will look after the snake until his original owners are brought to justice, when he will then be rehomed to a fully licensed, hopefully forever home, rehabilitated back into society, and with a bright, clean future ahead of him.