KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - A boa constrictor seized on Oahu in 2011 is getting a warm welcome in its new home on Hawaii Island.

The nearly 8-foot snake, which had been kept in a 100-gallon aquarium at the Honolulu office of the state Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine Branch, was moved Friday to new digs at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens.

Children pressed up against the glass of the boa constrictor's enclosure for a view of it flicking its black tongue and its tan and black body stretched to full length, West Hawaii Today reported.

Ken Smith, general manager of the Petco store in Kailua-Kona, gave tips on how to handle the snake.

Hawaii County Councilman Dennis "Fresh" Onishi, who helped secure it, tentatively touched its sides and then lifted a few loops of reptile.

"It's very smooth," Onishi said, "but I could feel his muscles underneath."

The Hawaii County Council on Jan. 7 approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with the state to provide a holding facility at the zoo for prohibited animals.

The new 8-by-3-foot exhibit was built to specifications by county Parks and Recreation Department staff.

The snake is a temporary resident but zoo director Pam Mizuno hopes it stays a long time. The zoo plans to use the snake to teach people about rain forest animals and the damage they could cause if they are loosed on the almost snake-free Hawaiian Islands.

The Department of Agriculture has an amnesty program that allows people turning in the reptile pets or other alien species to avoid prosecution.

If the state finds them first, violators could face felony charges, a prison term and a fine.


Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com