A man in Zimbabwe was arrested yesterday when, during a routine roadblock and police search, he was found to be carrying a sack of four Gaboon vipers on a bus. Mathew Aidini, 23, was bringing the snakes to Harare in order to sell them to what The Zimbabwean refers to as “an undisclosed Whiteman who owns a ‘snake garden.’” (“Undisclosed Whiteman” sounds like a name from the Plymouth Colony census roll, next to Praise-God Barebone and Restless Carver.)
This is not the first time the combination of public transportation and a sack of Gaboon vipers has come to an entirely predictable bad end. In 1983, a sixteen-year-old amateur herpetologist named Louis Morton broke the glass of a reptile-house display case at the National Zoo, stuffed two Gaboon vipers in a plastic grocery bag, and hopped on a bus with the bag slung over his shoulder. Now, as you might already know, venomous snakes can bite through flimsy plastic bags , and that’s exactly what happened to Morton . The poor teenager started screaming that he was about to die, and he was taken to the D.C. Children’s Hospital where antivenin was administered.I’m a little disappointed in humanity that no-vipers-on-the-bus is a lesson we needed to learn more than once.