Working with animals can bring out the best in people. A good example of this case is Anny the big yellow anaconda. She’s a snake that I was involved in helping and a few good people came together to help Anny get the life she deserves.
It started with a text from my good friend Gerrie Heyns, who runs a Facebook group called Snakes Live’s Matter. He sent me pictures of a large snake that was so badly covered in green algae that I struggled to identify it. He asked me if I could please help the lady who had the snake as she had little knowledge and experience with reptiles. I agreed, and he forwarded Eleanor Pretorius’ details to me. Eleanor runs Tara Wildlife/HART Rehabilitation Centre for big cats and game.
I contacted Eleanor and offered to help with advice on how to address enclosure conditions to prevent it happening again. Bare in mind that this is a yellow anaconda and also Eleanor’s first snake. Even though Eleanor cares for lions and other big game, a snake of Anny’s size isn’t an easy task. That being said, I think she did a fantastic job in cleaning up the snake and addressing the enclosure issues to solve the problem. I am still blown away by how dedicated and caring she is. I know the work involved in keeping big constrictors; and it isn’t easy.
Eleanor became very attached to Anny but she knew that the snake needed care from a professional. She asked me if it would be possible for me to take Anny in, I said that I would make a few calls and see what I could do.
Tara Wildlife/HART Rehabilitation Centre is very far away from me. I’m based in Simon’s Town and run deep south reptile sanctuary, which is in a completely different province. It’s about a 14 hour drive away.
I called around to all the experts I could think of to see if I could find a home for Anny closer to where she was. Unfortunately nobody was able to take on the responsibility. It goes to show that big snakes are not easy to keep. In the end I made the decision to take Anny in and I started to look for transportation for her. I called to see if flying her would be an option, quickly finding out that this method was too costly for my self-funded rehabilitation centre.
I went to get some supplies from my good friend Bjorn Unger at Reptile Gardens for my own snakes, I got to talking to him about Anny and he expressed interest in taking her in. He said,”let me see what I can do.”
Over the next few months Bjorn and I tried numerous ways to get Anny a lift to Cape Town. Eventually he called me one day and said, “Bro, I’ve got a lift for her.” I was so happy to hear those words. He then proceeded to get the permits in order and I informed Eleanor who also had to get permits ready from her side.
Bjorn’s friends were on their way to Cape Town and would be passing Eleanor’s rehabilitation centre. They agreed to swing by and pick Anny up.
Eventually after almost a whole year we now have Annie in Cape Town, she has a perfect bill of health and a permanent home with Bjorn at La Bonheur Reptiles and Adventures in Paarl/Simondium.
I’d like to thank everyone who helped and went the extra mile to help this special snake. Gerrie Heyns for putting us in contact, Eleanor for her fantastic hard work and dedication to first of all take Anny in to help and then for all the hard work that she put in. Big thanks to Uncle Dave for giving Anny a lift down and a huge thanks to Bjorn Unger for giving Anny a forever home with the best care she could ever need.
It’s amazing how a group of people can rally together to help a snake. I have made a friend for life in Eleanor, the work this lady does is absolutely amazing at Tara Wildlife/HART Rehabilitation Centre for animals. Bjorn who is one of South Africa’s top reptile experts and has an amazing display at Reptile Gardens as well as Monkey Town Somerset West; and where Anny now lives a life of luxury at La Bonheur Reptiles and adventures in Paarl.
I’m glad this story had a fantastic ending, it does however show that snakes are a huge responsibility and large constrictors are not easy to re-home when they become too large to keep in a normal house. Please do research and don’t get animals if you are not prepared to care for them and provide what they need at every stage of their lives. Even when they are 4m or more and not typically cute little noodles anymore. (To me they are always beautiful.)
Thanks to everyone involved.
Steve Venom Man.