South Beach 'snake charmer' cited on various wildlife charges

By Jeff Tavss - Executive Producer

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - A man who allowed South Beach tourists and residents to pose with his snakes was cited by wildlife officials on multiple charges relating to the care of the reptiles.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cited Ernesto Depeyster, 37, as part of an effort to enforce rules and regulations pertaining to displaying wildlife in public.

FWC officials witnessed Depeyster showing his Albino Burmese Python in front of the Break Water Hotel on Ocean Drive on March 16. Depeyster also kept an Albino Boa in a black suitcase nearby.

When Depeyster was questioned about whether he had an FWC license to publicly display the snakes, specifically the Burmese Python, he said he did not own one.

Depeyster claimed he had obtained the snake from an 11-year-old who had a legitimate license. But FWC officials informed him the agency would not issue a license to a child.

The Burmese Python was taken from Depeyster and transferred to a licensed handler who provides snakes for educational exhibits. He was allowed to keep the Albino Boa.

Depeyster was cited on the following charges:

  • Unlawful Exhibition of Wildlife in public without permit per FAC
  • Possession of conditional non-native species without a license per FAC
  • No records of acquisition per FAC
  • No method of identification PIT tag per FAC

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