Only 50 of the helmeted geckos could be placed in zoos. Photo: Pontus Lundahl
Police last month discovered 760 lizards, 67 turtles, 18 snakes, two crocodiles, one water monitor and eleven frogs in a disused shop in the small town of Löberöd.
The animals were placed at the Tropicarium Rescue Centre at Kolmården Zoo near Norrköping, which spent 100,000 kronor on extra terrariums to house them, and had to pay staff overtime to look after the reptiles.
Unfortunately, the lack of information about the animals’ origins meant that they could only be passed to institutions, and as only 50 of the more than 550 helmethead geckos could find places at European zoos, the decision was made to kill the rest.
“We applied for an exemption so we could use a killing method that is not yet approved in Sweden but is used internationally. That is to kill them in liquid nitrogen,” the Tropicarium's vet Bengt Röken told the newspaper.
“It worked very well: acceptable in terms of animal welfare as well as practical.”
Magnus Rothoff, one of the police officers involved in the reptile rescue, told the newspaper that the police in southern Sweden had been deluged with offers to care for the animals.
“We have received many requests from the general public, from people who wanted to take care of these animals,” he said. “But when you suspect that these might be animals captured from the wild, we just can’t do that.”