Step away from the toothpaste boxes!
A trio of people caught attempting to smuggle exotic birds into Singapore were fined several thousands dollars each, reports Asia One. The smugglers, who stuffed six tiny birds into toothpaste boxes in September, were sentenced on Nov. 26 to pay fines of $6,000 each.
The birds in question were mata putehs (also known as the Oriental white-eye), which are known for their beautiful voices, according to a statement released by Singapore's Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). The illegal songbirds were discovered when the smugglers' car was stopped at a routine checkpoint.
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Three people were fined thousands of dollars for attempting to smuggle exotic birds in toothpaste boxes.
"During the course of inspection, the vigilant ICA officers noticed that three toothpaste boxes inside the centre arm rest console of the car were moving and heard flapping sounds," the ICA statement read, in part. "It aroused their suspicions and they immediately proceeded to conduct further checks."
Two similar toothpaste boxes were found in a pouch and a bag.
Singapore's Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority bans the importation of birds under the Animals and Birds Act, unless a special permit is granted. Bird importing is also a problem in other parts of the world. The practice was banned by the European Union in 2007.
Oriental white-eyes are native to swathes of tropical Asia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, according to National Geographic. They forage in small groups and prefer small insects and nectar. They are also a favorite of bird smugglers.
The Oriental white-eye, easily recognizable by its prominent white eye-ring, is a small bird native to parts of Asia that typically grows between 3 and 6 inches in length.
Last year, a Malaysian national named Lim Chia Ming was sentenced to two weeks in jail for importing two dozen newborn Oriental White-eye birds in his underwear, reports Asia One. Ming put the birds into tiny boxes, and then stuffed them into a cloth pouch tied around his waist for a journey lasting more than 20 hours.
Another of the toothpaste boxes discovered recently by the ICA.