By Ben Hooper
March 13 (UPI) — Authorities in Maryland said they have charged a former zoo worker accused of taking and illegally keeping venomous snakes and other reptiles from the facility.
Maryland Natural Resources Police said Brandon Joseph Boyles, 28, of Cascade, was charged Friday with 23 counts of illegal possession of venomous snakes, animal cruelty and reckless endangerment after police conducting a raid at his home Feb. 22 found him to be in possession of six western diamondback rattlesnakes, one 7-foot forest cobra, one cape coral cobra and two boomslangs.
Police said they opened an investigation into Boyles’ reptile possession after he posted videos to YouTube under the name VenomMan20. They said he previously turned a dusky pygmy rattlesnake over to the Maryland Reptile Conservation Center in Montgomery County last November.
Investigators said Boyle left his job at the Catoctin Zoo and Wildlife Preserve in September and took home five venomous snakes, three alligators and a crocodile.
Police said Boyle was keeping the reptiles in unsecured plastic containers that could have allowed them to escape. The animals were also found to not have fresh water available in the containers and two dead cobras were found in a freezer.
Boyle is due to appear in court May 8 to face charges including 13 counts of illegal possession of venomous snakes, nine counts of animal cruelty and one count of reckless endangerment.