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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Girl's 'hat' was endangered species
BBC chameleon graphic
The chameleon was perched on owner's head
A rare chameleon was seized by customs officers after it was spotted perched on the head of its 17-year-old owner in an airport arrivals hall.

Fellow travellers noticed the reptile being "worn" on the girl's headscarf as she waited to collect luggage at Manchester Airport.

The teenager had bought the lizard as a pet from a market stall in Saudi Arabia.

She had taken it on a flight from Dubai to visit British relatives without realising it needed export and import papers.


It caused quite a commotion among people in the arrivals hall

Bill O'Leary, Customs and Excise

One onlooker said: "I was completely amazed. The animal was just sat on her head.

"At first I thought it was plastic but then I saw it flick its tongue out.

"How the air hostesses and other passengers didn't notice it is beyond me."

Customs officers consulted experts, who realised the reptile was a Common Chameleon and on a list of endangered species.

Bill O'Leary, spokesman for Customs and Excise, said: "It caused quite a commotion among people in the arrivals hall.

"The girl clearly did not realise that she had done anything wrong by bringing the chameleon into the country and she is not expected to be charged with any offences.

"We work constantly to educate people that if they bring animals into the United Kingdom, they could be seized on entry."

The chameleon is now being cared for by a reptile expert and is expected to stay in the UK.


Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

22 Apr 02 | UK
25 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
10 Aug 00 | Science/Nature
25 Jul 00 | Science/Nature
13 Jul 99 | UK
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