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S$10,100 fine for Singapore man who kept four tarantulas in Punggol flat, imported eight others from Malaysia

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Andrew Chan Joo Seong illegally kept tarantulas such as the Mexican red rump in his home. — Daniel de Bruyne/Pixabay via TODAY
Andrew Chan Joo Seong illegally kept tarantulas such as the Mexican red rump in his home. — Daniel de Bruyne/Pixabay via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Sept 16 — In a second such recent case, a 48-year-old Singaporean man was fined S$10,100 today for owning and importing a dozen tarantulas.

Andrew Chan Joo Seong kept four of the spiders — two of them endangered — in his ground-floor flat in Punggol Place. He had ordered the others from a seller via a Facebook page.

The tarantulas arrived from the Malaysian state of Selangor on Sept 20, 2018 in a registered parcel, which was processed at the Singapore Post Centre.

When the immigration authorities suspected that the parcel contained live tarantulas, they contacted the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

An officer collected the parcel and went to the address listed on it with a colleague. Chan confirmed that he was the intended recipient.

The officers then opened the parcel and found three plastic containers wrapped in aluminium foil. They contained two Mexican fireleg tarantulas and six other tarantulas.

A search of Chan’s home uncovered four more tarantulas — a Mexican red rump, a Mexican golden red rump, a Brazilian black and a Greenbottle blue, which is native to Venezuela.

He admitted to ordering them on two separate occasions from a Facebook page called Tarantula Mart.

All of the Mexican spider species are endangered and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (Cites).

The Greenbottle blue and Brazilian black tarantulas are listed as wild animals under Singapore’s Wild Animals and Birds Act.

National Parks Board’s prosecutor Wendy Tan told the court that Chan had no previous similar offences, but was convicted before of National Service enlistment and traffic offences.

She noted that it was difficult to detect wildlife being imported into Singapore “due to the sheer number of parcels coming in”. Tarantulas are also small, easy to hide and do not make noise, she added.

In mitigation, Chan — who did not have a lawyer — said: “There is no excuse for my offences. I’m ashamed and I regret and (feel) remorse for what I’ve done. I just want to plead for leniency.”

He pleaded guilty to five charges under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act as well as the Wild Animals and Birds Act. District Judge Adam Nakhoda considered six other charges for sentencing.

For possessing or importing a scheduled animal species, Chan could have been fined up to S$50,000 for each species or jailed up to two years, or both. The aggregate fine cannot exceed S$500,000.

For illegally keeping or importing wild animals, he could have been fined up to S$1,000 for each animal.

Besides Chan, another man — Herman Foo Yong He — was fined S$17,000 in March for similar offences.

The 24-year-old university student had kept 20 tarantulas in his Bedok flat and imported another 23 that came in registered parcels. — TODAY

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