Tragic pictures show brothers, 4 and 6, strangled to death by 14-foot python standing IN serpent cage scrubbing it out... as it is revealed the 'illegal' snake has been destroyed by authorities
- Noah and Connor Barthe were sleeping when an African rock python in a nearby room escaped its cage through a small hole in the ceiling
- It slithered through a ventilation shaft, which collapsed as the snake moved across the living room, where the boys were sleeping
- A criminal investigation has been launched but no charges so far
- Officials said African rock pythons are not allowed in the province
- Boys spent final day playing with friends and visiting farm
By MICHAEL ZENNIE, LYDIA WARREN and BARBARA MCMAHON
PUBLISHED: 20:59 EST, 6 August 2013 | UPDATED: 23:15 EST, 6 August 2013
Tragic new photos showing little Connor and Noah Barth scrubbing out a serpent cage reveal just how familiar the brothers were with the deadly python that strangled them in their sleep.
The pictures of the shirtless boys, age 4 and 6, in their underwear were posted on their mother's Facebook page. Mandy Trecartin also posted a picture of the children playing in a smaller glass cage.
The pictures have emerged as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed that they ordered the 14-foot African rock python destroyed on Tuesday. Its carcass has been taken to a local zoo where herpetologists will perform a necropsy on it.
Jean-Claude Savoie kept an unknown number of massive reptiles in large glass cages at his pet shop and museum Reptile Ocean in Capbellton, New Brunswick, Canada, including the python, a large anaconda and several crocodiles, according to pictures on his Facebook page.
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Tragic: Connor and Noah Barth are seen here with a third child as they mop out a massive glass enclosure that held some of Jean-Claude Savoie's large reptiles
It is unknown whether this enclosure housed the 14-foot python that escaped and strangled them in their sleep
The two little boys are seen here playing in the sand it a large snake cage
It is unknown whether the boys were in the cage that housed the deadly python that killed them as they slept on Monday morning.
The African rock python, which killed six-year-old Connor Barthe and his brother Noah, four, on Monday morning, was being kept in a second-floor apartment above the pet store.
Authorities are investigating whether Mr Savoie had the correct permits for the snake. African rock pythons are not among the exotic species that New Brunswick residents are allowed to keep as pets.
A New Brunswick government official, Steven Benteau, said African rock pythons are not allowed under the Exotic Wildlife Regulation.
Heartbroken: Mandy Trecartin poses with her two sons, seven-year-old Connor and five-year-old Noah, who were apparently strangled to death by a python as they slept above a pet shop
Deadly: This African Rock Python is pictured on Jean-Claude Savoie's Facebook and could be the one that slithered from the pet shop and killed the boys as they slept
'It is illegal for anyone to keep any exotic species that is not listed in the regulation unless they have a permit from the Department of Natural Resources,' he said.
'If such an animal is found, it will be confiscated and the person who possesses the animal can be charged under the Fish and Wildlife Act.'
Authorities also revealed that the snake escaped through a small hole in the ceiling of its glass enclosure that connected to a ventilation shaft. As the snake crawled through this shaft over the living room, the structure collapsed.
The huge serpent landed beside the brothers, who were in the living room for a sleepover. Autopsies are being carried out on the boys, but it is believed they were strangled by the snake.
Details of their deaths came as relatives paid tribute to the adorable brothers and recounted their last happy day together before the tragedy.
Sadness: David Rose, the victims' great-uncle, described the boys' last happy day together - playing with friends and visiting a farm, where they played with animals and rode a tractor
Tragic: Noah and Connor Barthe were killed by a massive python in their sleep after it escaped from its cage
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the boys' great-uncle, David Rose, said they spent the day with the snake's owner, Jean-Claud Savoie, and his son - enjoying a barbeque and swimming.
'They enjoyed life to a maximum, their last day was spent playing with friends in the backyard,' Rose said, adding that the two families stocked up on groceries before heading to Savoie's farm.
'There they played with llamas, and goats and horses, they played with dogs and cats in the hay loft,' he said. 'They went for a ride with Jean-Claude on his tractor and he even let them steer. They had a super day.'
The two families enjoyed the evening together until around midnight on Sunday, when the boys went to sleep. Mr Savoie's young son returned to his bedroom to sleep.
'That's the type of life they had and that's the type of life we want to remember,' Mr Rose said, as he became emotional.
A tearful Roland Trecartin, the boys' grandfather, added to MailOnline: 'We're all in shock. The boys were sweethearts. Lovely, lovely children.'
Curious: Noah and Connor, seen here handling a corn snake called Mr Slithers, were fascinated by animals, a neighbor tells MailOnline. They often stayed at the home where the animal owner lived
'Full of joy': A neighbor described Noah and Connor as happy children who loved playing with animals
A criminal investigation into the boys' deaths has been launched but no charges have yet been brought.
Mr Savoie, who also kept exotic animals in his pet store beneath the apartment, earlier described how he found the boys at 6.30am on Monday and at first thought the boys were just sleeping.
'They were sleeping,' he said in an interview. But 'they didn't even open their eyes or nothing. I thought they were sleeping until I [saw] the hole in the ceiling. I turned the lights on and I [saw] this horrific scene.'
He explained: '[The snake] went through a ventilation system. I don't understand how it did it. It went through the ceiling... and the snake fell into the living room from the ceiling.'
Mr Savoie said that after finding the boys' bodies, he found the snake coiled in a hole nearby, held it down and put it in a cage.
Shocked: Jean-Claude Savoie, left, who describes himself as best friends with the boys' mother, Mandy Trecartin, right, said he has no idea how the snake slithered into the room where the boys were staying
Scene: The snake escaped from Reptile Ocean, a pet shop in the small city of Campbellton in New Brunswick, Canada. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruiser sits outside the store on Tuesday
Mourning: A memorial sits outside the Reptile Ocean exotic pet store in Campbellton on Tuesday
Mr Savoie said that the boys were the sons of his best friend, Mandy Trecartin, and that they often stayed at his home, where they slept in the living room.
'My body is in shock. I don't know what to think,' he told the Global News. 'I feel like they're my kids.'
The boys are believed to have been strangled to death by the 14-foot African Rock Python, the News reported, but an autopsy is being carried out today to determine the exact cause of death.
In further bad news for Mr Savoie, a petition has been launched to shut down the shop over the way its animals were being treated. So far the Shut Down Reptile Ocean petition has only 185 signatures.
The snake is not usually handled by anyone in the store and Mr Savoie said he does not know how it escaped its cage in the pet shop.
'How he got loose, I don’t know,' a former employee, Tim Thomas, told the National Post.
Brothers: The boys often stayed with Mr Savoie, who is best friends with their mother Mandy, right
Close: An autopsy is being carried out on the bodies of Connor and Noah to determine the exact cause of death
THE SNAKE KNOWN TO DEVOUR WHOLE ANTELOPES IN THE WILD
The brothers are believed to have been killed by anAfrican Rock Python, Africa's largest snake. The reptile can grow as long as 20ft and as heavy as 200lbs.
In the wild, it is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in 2009, six of the snakes were found in the Florida Everglades.
It constricts its prey to death and has been known to devour whole antelopes or crocodiles. After gripping the prey, the snake coils around it and tightens its coils every time the prey exhales; death is often caused by cardiac arrest rather than by asphysxiation. As well as larger animals, it feeds on rodents, lizards, monkeys and bats.
The snake, which has brown, olive chestnut and yellow markings, is recognizable by its thick body which is covered with colored blotches that create stripes. It has a distinctive triangular pattern along the top of its head and beneath its eyes.
'Because ever since Jean-Claude got full custody of his child, every cage had two locks on it, and one of them was a master lock and the keys to that were hung up in the laundry room.'
He added: 'Jean-Claude loved them kids and he would have never, ever put them in danger at all.'
Reptile Ocean, the pet shop, is home to a veritable menagerie of exotic animals, including crocodiles, tarantulas, tortoises and numerous snakes.
Neighbor Diane Fournier told MailOnline how she often saw the brothers happily playing together outside. They were fascinated by animals, she said, and often came over to pet her dog.
'The kids were always playing and laughing. They were really full of joy and lots of energy,' she said.
Facebook photos show both of the boys handling a small corn snake - called Mr Slithers - owned by their mother, a teleservices agent at Service New Brunswick, a local government agency.
Ms Fournier told MailOnline that Mr Savoie operated Reptile Ocean as both a pet shop and as a zoo. He kept numerous snakes and lizards and small crocodiles to sell, but he hosted tour groups.
Alike: The boys, both pictured, were staying at a sleepover with Savoie's son when they were killed
'He always had kids going in there to visit like school kids and groups,' she said.
Ms Fournier said she she herself has touched the snake that is believed to have killed the boys. He often showed it off and kept it in a locked cage, she said.
The horrifying deaths of the two children shocked residents of the small city of 7,400 in northern New Brunswick.
'It’s very nerve-wracking. If one got out, how many else got out,' Ms Fournier said.
Lisa Janes, a co-owner and curator of Little Ray's Reptile Zoo, a private zoo and education program in Ontario, said that snakes do not usually regard humans as food.
'They attack because they're feeling scared or threatened, or because they smell food,' she told CBC, adding: 'We were absolutely shocked and saddened. Our condolences go out to the family.'
Missed: The young boys were killed as they slept on the floor in the apartment above the pet store
Adorable: The Barth brothers pose with each other and their mother, Mandy
Innocence: Mr Savoie thought the boys were still sleeping when he went to check on them on Monday
As a criminal investigation is launched, some experts said that it was very surprising that the snake attacked.
'It’s strange, I’m just trying to piece it together,' Lee Parker, the facilities manager at Ontario reptile zoo Reptilia, told CBC. 'They don't go on killing sprees... it doesn't make sense to me.'
Attacks by African rock pythons are rare, but not unheard of.
The last was in 2002, when a 10-year-old boy was killed and swallowed in Durban, South Africa.
Three years prior, a three-year-old boy was killed by another rock python after escaping its cage in Centralia, Illinois.
Police said an autopsy on Tuesday will confirm the exact cause of death, though officials believe the boys were strangled by the snake.
The snake in question was an African Rock Python, said to be 14 to 16 feet long. Even the owner admitted it was 'vicious'
Big snake: This anaconda is believed to be one of the very large snakes Jean-Claude Savoie kept at his Reptile Ocean pet shop
Collection: Savoie has a variety of animals at the store, including crocodiles, tortoises and tarantulas
Mr Savoie said he captured the snake and turned it over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It is believed the animal has now been killed.
An RCMP spokeswoman said the major crimes unit is investigating the case and will determine whether any criminal charges should be filed against the owner. So far none have been brought.
In a Facebook message, staff at Reptile Ocean wrote: 'Deepest sympathies goes out to the family of the children. A terrible accident without a meaning.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2385796/Noah-Connor-Barthe-Pictures-boys-strangled-python-playing-serpent-cage.html#ixzz2bGpI7C9S
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