New Brunswick Premier David Alward is promising a review of provincial exotic wildlife regulations after two boys were killed by a python in Campbellton earlier this month.
An African rock python kept in an apartment above Reptile Ocean escaped its enclosure and asphyxiated Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor, 6, during a sleepover.
Alward said the ongoing police investigation is the priority, but the provincial government will also look at whether it needs to change its policies or regulations.
"You can be certain that various government departments, various levels of government, need to know and understand the regulations that are in place, and are there gaps in place that could eliminate problems or reduce risk in the future?"
Alward made the comments on Friday, following a news conference on the One-Job Pledge initiative. It was the first time any provincial official has taken questions on the issue since the boys' bodies were discovered on Aug. 5.
In an e-mail statement last week, the provincial Department of Natural Resources said African rock pythons are not permitted in New Brunswick.
The only exceptions granted would be for accredited zoos, not for someone to keep an illegal exotic animal as a pet, officials said.
Reptile Ocean is an unlicensed zoo and pet store, according to officials.
"Regulations alone will not eliminate things happening," said Alward. "So we need to know and understand what took place, how could that risk have ever been reduced, and how do we ensure we deal with that in the future?"
It's believed the python escaped through the top of a glass enclosure and into a ventilation system. The python, which was 4.3 metres long and weighed about 45 kilograms, fell through the ceiling and into the room where the Barthe boys were sleeping.
Earlier this week, a former employee of Reptile Ocean alleged that the python escaped because of human error involving a missing ventilation fan in its enclosure.
Boys' mother grateful for support
Noah and Connor's mother, Mandy Trecartin, has not commented on the case, but thanked people for their support and generosity in an emailed statement to the Campbellton Tribune on Friday.
'While I know there is still much sadness to feel and many more tears to be shed, I will try and remember the wise words of Dr. Seuss: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’'—Mandy Trecartin, mother
"In this impossible time, our community has proven that while it may be small in numbers, it is enormous in heart," she said.
"The outpouring of kind words, gifts and donations from near and far has been just unreal."
Although Trecartin did not attend the vigil held in Campbellton for her sons, she said she did watch from afar.
"Connor and Noah would have loved it," she said. "I know they would have been in absolute awe of all the candles and gifts. My heart was touched by all the kind words spoken in their honour."
"While I know there is still much sadness to feel and many more tears to be shed, I will try and remember the wise words of Dr. Seuss: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ "