53 king cobras were found in a car and the driver was arrested for transporting them. Vietnamese police say they were surprised by the number of cobras that were seized.
The driver, Nguyen Van Hai, told police he had been hired by a person named Hop to move the snakes from the northern province of Vinh Phuc to Hanoi. Hai said he was paid $47 to deliver the snakes, which are banned from sale in Vietnam. Another man was reportedly in the car, but fled when the car was stopped by police.
Officer Dang Van Hanh said Monday the live snakes were taken to a wildlife rescue center near the capital where they treated before being released into the wild.
The meat of the king cobras is considered a delicacy by some in Vietnam, where hunting and trading the snakes is banned. The snakes are also sometimes preserved in traditional medicines.
The snakes, which were kept in green sacks, were seized Friday.
King cobras are the world’s longest venomous snake, and grow up to 18 feet.