Two passengers from Belgium were nabbed at Ben-Gurion International Airport by Israeli authorities Monday on suspicion of smuggling 34 parrots into the country in their carry-on baggage.
The Agriculture Ministry received a tip about the exotic birds and was waiting for their handlers to arrive at customs. It is illegal to bring parrots into the country without proper documentation and inspection.
According to a ministry press statement, the birds arrived without veterinary papers or licenses and hadn’t undergone the necessary inspections for imported birds. Had they entered the country without inspection, the birds may have transmitted disease to indigenous animals and people.
The two suspects were interrogated by Agriculture Ministry investigators, and they told the officials that the birds were a collection of rare specimens worth thousands of euros. A criminal case was opened against the suspected smugglers.
The birds were immediately transferred to the Agriculture Ministry’s veterinary facility and provided with food and water and will be returned to their country of origin in order to prevent the transmission of potentially deadly diseases.