The owner of the venomous zebra cobra that escaped in Raleigh faces 40 misdemeanor charges.
Christopher Gifford, 21, faces 40 counts of violating a state statute that regulates the ownership of poisonous reptiles. It included 36 counts of improper premises, three counts of mislabeled premises and one count of failing to report the leak, Raleigh police said.
Court documents showed the snake had been missing since November 2020.
The zebra cobra escaped and was spotted in a northwest Raleigh neighborhood. A person who called 911 reported the snake on June 28. Two days later, animal control captured the snake on June 30.
Christopher Gifford had a large collection of snakes at his home in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
His attorney, Anna Smith Felts, said authorities seized 75 snakes from the home where he lives with his parents.
“The authorities made a routine check of his house in March. Everything was up to standards and fully compliant with the law, ”Felts said. “He did everything possible to rectify the situation and is cooperating fully.”
Felts also says that Gifford is certified in snake handling and that all the snakes were legally owned.
Gifford faces up to 60 days in jail for each of these class 2 misdemeanor charges.
Senate whip Democrat Senator Jay Chaudhuri of Raleigh argued that while it has been acceptable for North Carolinians to possess these types of reptiles, that should not be the case in the future.
“There is no good reason for someone to possess 75 non-native poisonous snakes,” he said.
State legislators are writing laws to address the problem. The bill relies heavily on South Carolina law.
It would prohibit people from owning poisonous snakes that are not native to North Carolina. If they already have one in their possession, homeowners will need to register the snake with the North Carolina Department of Natural and Environmental Resources — and also purchase a $ 1 million liability insurance policy.
There will be a meeting on the bill on July 22. Lawmakers are still working on the details of the meeting.