SINGAPORE: There was no malice or cruelty towards the snake outside Tang Plaza during its capture, said pest control firm Anticimex on Thursday (Jan 31) after the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said it was investigating claims that the animal was mishandled.
AVA announced on Tuesday that it was investigating the case after a video on social media showed an Anticimex employee stepping on a 3m-long python while attempting to capture the struggling animal.
The authority previously said: "Cruelty to animals is an offence under the Animals and Birds Act. AVA has issued a set of guidelines on the proper handling of snakes to all pest control and wildlife management agencies in Singapore."
In response to this, Anticimex told Channel NewsAsia that the workers involved "used all necessary parts of their bodies to safely relocate a very large snake in a public place".
"A foot is no different to a hand being used in an attempt to restrain a powerful animal, and in fact the human leg is stronger than the arm for this purpose," said Mr Tony Hurst, managing director and president Asia, Anticimex.
He added that not restraining the reptile by any means available when it attempted to evade containment "could have had disastrous consequences" in crowded areas like Tang Plaza, which is in Orchard Road.
"The situation called for quick, reactive instinct and action under a highly volatile and unpredictable situation," he said. "The importance of protecting the human public will always supersede other considerations."
"Moments of indecision in situations such as these could cause greater harm, so we are thankful the staff acted quickly when the situations called for it," Mr Hurst added.
The video circulating online also showed that the man who stepped on the python was bitten by the snake.
Anticimex said that the pest control technician involved in the incident was recovering after a minor operation to remove an embedded snake tooth.
"Even after our technician was bitten, there was no malice or cruelty towards the animal, only efforts to contain it and prevent harm," added Hurst.
Wildlife rescue group ACRES on Friday said it shared Anticimex's concerns about public safety, which was why wild animals needed "to be handled appropriately".
"Mishandling will endanger public safety, the safety of the workers handling the animals and also compromise animal welfare," the group said in a Facebook post.
ACRES said if the animal was handled properly, there would not be "a need to use excessive force or step on the animal". The animal handler would also not get injured, it added in its post.
"If there was a concern about public safety, the area should also have been properly cordoned off and members of the public kept further away from the animal," it added.
"This will also help keep the animal more calm and make the handling easier," said ACRES, adding that it wished the injured pest control technician a speedy recovery.