||| Indika Wanigarathne | Exprezo Cafe |||
Florida is known for it's exotic wildlife, which comes from a variety of sources including living naturally in unique habitats and those which have been released by former pet owners and have become invasive species.
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However several customers at a Lincoln Road cafe in Miami Beach were in for a massive shock today as a six foot long Burmese Python made an appearance on the sidewalk as they sat down for a bite to eat and a cold beer.
The owner of the Exprezo Cafe, Indika Wanigarathne, said a few of his customers witnessed the massive reptile under the bushes and literally jumped out of his seat in fear rushing to the counter asking for help.
He said, “I figured, well, come on, how big can it be? When I saw how huge it was, I freaked out. So did everybody else."
That's when he decided this one was a job for the Miami Police Department to ensure the safety of customers and himself.
Once police arrived to the scene they said that they were also shocked at the size of the massive snake.
They believe it's likely an escaped pet, because the only thing that's nearby is a popular pedestrian mall.
Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said that the Python will be handed over to Florida Wildlife Refuge to find it another home.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Suspect apprehended! Officers responded to a call of a 6ft snake just off Lincoln Road and safely captured it. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoodWork?src=hash">#GoodWork</a> <a href="https://t.co/N5M2mq47T6">pic.twitter.com/N5M2mq47T6</a></p>— Daniel J. Oates (@MBPDChiefOates) <a href="https://twitter.com/MBPDChiefOates/status/902993837630660608">August 30, 2017</a></blockquote>
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The Police Chief tweeted out “Suspect Apprehended!” with images of the officers and the enormous python.
"First a male officer came, and didn’t want to get too close, so a second male officer came and said hell, no, he wasn’t going to touch it," Wanigarathne said. "Then a lady officer came and she was a genius. She didn’t panic. She put on gloves and picked up the python with her hands and put it in a little cooler. The guys gathered around were screaming but she was calm.”
The officer was Traci Sierra of the Miami Police Department, whom Rodriguez described as an animal advocate.
"You could call her a hero,” said Wanigarathne. “Trust me, I wouldn’t grab that thing."
Pythons are now shifting as they expand through the Everglades, as an invasive species which is decimating native wildlife.
Pythons have now replaced the alligator as the marsh’s top predator. In efforts to control the population, state officials hired snake trackers from the Irula tribe in India, who have so far hunted down 33 snakes in a month, and the South Florida Water Management District is also paying trappers by the hour and the foot as they have bagged 500 in five months,including a giant 16-foot, 10-inch monster slain by an orchid grower.
“They’ve been spotted in Key Largo, in Homestead, near Kendale Lakes. What if they develop a taste for sushi or gelato or Cockapoos and invade Lincoln Road?” said one local farmer.
"Instead of looking for cars when we cross the street we will soon have to look for pythons," warned Wanigarathne, saying he's seen them at his Cafe often, just not this big before.
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