A janitor for the Waikiki-Kapahulu Public Library stumbled across a startling discovery as he inspected the dumpster: four bottles of wine containing dead cobras, seahorses, and geckos. The bottles had a label that read “snake wine,” reported Hawaiian news station KITV.
Snake wine, or having any snakes in Hawaii, is completely illegal. Hawaii has no native snake species. According to Discovery.com, this is because it is an isolated archipelago; the only way for wildlife species to get to the Hawaiian Islands is to fly or swim across the Pacific Ocean.
Having snakes on the island could pose a great risk to other species. Snakes have no natural predators on the island, and would prey on native birds and their eggs. This can pose a great risk to the native bird species in Hawaii. This is one of the reasons that having a living snake is a Class C felony in Hawaii. A Class C felony can get violators up to three years in prison in addition to a $200,000 fine. This is why many Hawaiians have never even seen a snake. In September 2013, Hawaii News Now reported that a couple of friends were driving down the Pali Highway when one of the friends, Jesse Spense, noticed something in the road. Jesse said:
“I saw something in the road and I said ‘Yo that’s a snake’ but my friends said you’re tripping there are no snakes in Hawaii.”
Turns out, an illegal boa constrictor had made its way to the highway and was run over by passing by vehicles. At that time, Russell Kokubun, chairperson of the Board of Agriculture, said, “Any snake found in the wild in Hawaii is a serious concern.”
The Waikiki Library cobras were dead, but they are still illegal due to US Customs and Border Protection that prohibits the trading of any species present on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora list. Cobras are currently on the list, making them illegal to trade, even if dead.
Cobras have long been kept and used as the main “snake wine” ingredient. Snake wine is popular in many Asian countries and is used to treat a variety of issues from virility to hair loss, according to The Huffington Post. In fact, snakes in snake wine can still pose danger to the consumer. A story in the International Business Times notes that on September 3, 2013, a woman named Liu from Shuangcheng in Heilongjiang Province was bitten by a wine snake who had been pickled for over three months.
Hawaii isn’t the only place with unwanted, non-native snakes. The Inquisitr reported that an 18-foot Python was found in Florida.
Why were these bottles of snake wine tossed in the Waikiki Library dumpster? We may never know. However, it may be safe to assume that whoever put the bottles in the library dumpster may have recently read Liu’s story of her snake wine rising from the dead, and decided to ditch the bottles before they came for revenge.