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Creepy cargo: Philippines seizes 757 tarantulas from Poland

A staff of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources shows one of the 757 Tarantulas kept inside plastic containers at their office in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Philippine Customs District Collector Carmelita Talusan said in a statement that 757 live Tarantulas, with an estimated value of P310,000 (about US$6,000), were seized by customs agents at Manila's airport last April 1. The endangered wildlife species were found concealed in gift-wrapped oatmeal and cookie boxes and was shipped from Poland. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

A staff of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources shows one of the 757 Tarantulas kept inside plastic containers at their office in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Philippine Customs District Collector Carmelita Talusan said in a statement that 757 live Tarantulas, with an estimated value of P310,000 (about US$6,000), were seized by customs agents at Manila's airport last April 1. The endangered wildlife species were found concealed in gift-wrapped oatmeal and cookie boxes and was shipped from Poland. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine customs officials were astonished when they opened nicely gift-wrapped boxes of cookies and oatmeal flown in all the way from Poland and found a hair-raising contraband: hundreds of live tarantulas.

Bureau of Customs personnel seized the 757 tarantulas at a mail exchange center near Manila’s international airport Monday and later arrested a Filipino man who tried to claim the long-legged and venomous spiders, which were declared as “collection items.”

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A staff of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources shows DNA sampling vials containing Tarantulas at their office in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Many of the baby tarantulas were concealed in small plastic vials punctured with holes for air while bigger spiders were shipped in see-through plastic containers. Officials estimated the value of the unusual shipment at 310,000 pesos ($5,900).

Philippine wildlife laws prohibit the trading, collection and possession of such spiders, which are popular pets among arachnid enthusiasts, without permits.

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Tarantulas inside plastic containers are shown at the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources in metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Despite threats of hefty fines and imprisonment, a startling array of wildlife have been seized by the hundreds by airport customs inspectors in Manila since last year, including geckos, iguanas, chameleons and a popular reptile called bearded dragons.

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