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Cobra snake show scare not in Phuket, says island tourism boss

PHUKET: Santi Pawai, Director of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Phuket office, has denied that a viral video of a cobra escaping a snake pit and terrifying tourists at show happened in Phuket.

By The Phuket News

Friday 27 May 2016, 11:54AM

The video, credited to Dmitriy Bodnar, went viral last Saturday, with international news agencies reporting the frightening incident.

The audience were enjoying the bizarre act at a venue in Phuket, when the snake leapt into the crowd arching its neck at terrified crowd members, reported the MailOnline. (See story here.)

“The show was very interesting. I sat quietly and watched until the snake almost bit spectators. I do not know whether it was part of the show or something went out of control, but the fact is I was frightened, not only I was frightened. everyone was,” Mr Bodnar was quoted as saying.

“We investigated as soon as we saw the video on social media,” Mr Santi said yesterday (May 26), adding that he and Tourist Police Lt Thapanan Akarakantrakon and other officials inspected eight snake shows in Chalong, including in Soi Palai, Soi Prayai, and Soi Nakok.

“But we did not find a snake show that matched the description we saw on the video clip. We believe this clip taken somewhere else,” he said.

However, Mr Santi did not explain why no other snake shows in Phuket were inspected or why no effort was made to contact Mr Bodnar to confirm where the video was recorded.

“I did not ask the person who posted the video because I do not know him,” Mr Santi told The Phuket News this morning (May 27).

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“As far as we know, he said it happened in Phuket so we investigated all venues that are registered as providing snake shows. We printed out the picture and checked if the description of stage and the seats matched any snake shows here. No matches were found,” he said.

Although Mr Santi said he failed to find the snake show where the incident occurred, he said he had ordered all eight snake show operators that he had inspected to improve safety features to protect tourists.

“All the snake shows that we checked lacked safety measure for audiences. The stages didnot have fences to protect the audience from any animals that might escape during the show, which poses a potential threat to audiences,” he said.

“Phuket is tourism destination and we have large numbers of tourists visit us each year. Safety is our priority. All snakes and other animals show operators have been advised to resolve their safety issues by installing fences between the show area and audience.

“They can use glass covers or iron bars to prevent animals such as snakes from escaping from a handler during the show. All operators we spoke today agreed to comply,” Mr Santi said.

In January, Mr Santi inspected a snake charming and venom collection show in Chalong after a python bit a Chinese woman on the nose. The woman was compensated B120,000 for the incident. (See story here.)



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