Cash-strapped UK government spends $16,000 on a dead snake

LONDON Fri Nov 2, 2012 7:26am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Foreign Office spent 10,000 pounds ($16,100) to re-stuff the corpse of a giant 120-year-old snake, at a time when government departments are being told to rein in spending.

In response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from political blog Guido Fawkes, the Foreign Office said the 20 foot anaconda - called Albert - had been in poor condition and required "essential maintenance".

"Albert the anaconda was allegedly presented by a Bishop, in what is now Guyana, to the Colonial Secretary in the 19th century", the Foreign Office said.

The huge reptile hangs in a Foreign Office library and is regarded as a departmental asset in a country whose former empire once ruled over vast swathes of the planet.

"Austerity, what austerity?", asked the blog in red below the response.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office recoiled at the suggestion that reviving Albert's looks might not be essential work for a government whose prime minister warned voters just last month to brace for "painful decisions" on the economy.

"It is quite a bit of money, but he is a very big snake. We will not be constricted, nor will we scale back, in our dedication to preserve this historic national treasure".

($1 = 0.6196 British pounds)

(Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer, editing by Paul Casciato)

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Comments (3)
Overcast451 wrote:
THIS is what happens when you put politicians in charge of things…

Nov 05, 2012 9:35am EST  --  Report as abuse
areddy831 wrote:
“We will not be CONSTRICTED, nor will we SCALE back, in our dedication to preserve this historic national treasure”

Oh, the subtle British humour

Nov 08, 2012 6:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jo5319 wrote:
How much does the price of the snake appreciate after the refurbishment?

Well, on the Antique Road Show PBS, spending money on antique is recommended by the Road show experts only when the appreciation is greater than the cost of renovation.

Nov 08, 2012 10:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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