13:40 GMT12 June 2021
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    A prison in Sydney, Australia is helping to give reptiles a second chance at life after they have been found injured or hurt. John Morony Correctional facility is home to python addicted to methamphetamine as well as other injured creatures.

    The python which can not be named for legal reasons, was discovered after a police raid of an ice (meth) lab. The reptile needed six weeks of detoxification while housed at the Corrective Services NSW Wildlife Care Center in Windsor. 

    Senior overseer of the facility Ian Mitchell, who has been managing the center for reptiles, said that the python had absorbed the drug through its skin. 

    "It just takes time for the drug to leave the snake's system but through our assistance, we managed to calm it down after several months and bring it back to its routine feeding patterns," Mr. Mitchell said in a recent interview. 

    "We also currently house bearded dragons and blue tongue lizards seized during raids," Mr. Mitchell added.

    Mr. Mitchell said that it is not just reptiles associated with criminal cases, also venomous snakes that might have been found in back gardens or by the side of the road are also helped. 

    ​Only inmates who need minimal security access are selected to participate in the program, they are able to feed and clean the reptiles, except the venomous snakes, who are fed by staff that have undergone rigorous training. 

    Those reptiles needed for legal court cases as evidence are only re-housed once the proceedings have been concluded. Once the reptile has been rehabilitated, they are then handed to organizations including the RSPCA or National Parks and Wildlife Service.  Over the past year, around 40 snakes, 15 lizards, five turtles and a number of other animals have been cared for at the center.

    Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Center Governor Ivan Calder said the program is not only beneficial for the reptile but also for the inmates, as it allows a dozen of them to participate in a wide range of tasks, including caring for the animals, building shelters and also gives them the chance to gain a qualification in animal care. 

    "The program provides them with a calming environment that can assist with reducing re-offending. It also allows gradual reintroduction to community contact as well as the reinforcement of the care and consideration of others, not just one's self," Mr. Calder said.

    At any one time there are around 250 animals, mainly birds, housed at the center.

    Reptiles are not the only creatures to be involved in crime — in the 1990s, a parrot named Echo was one of the first animals to enter the witness protection program in the US as he had seen several instances where child abuse took place and some say he may have even been witness to a murder.

    Within the witness protection program there is no section for animals, so Echo had been sent to a wildlife rehab and was told to keep quiet. 


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    python, animal welfare concerns, snake, rehabilitation, methamphetamine, crime, inmates, reptiles, prison, drugs, animals, Australia, Sydney
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