updated 8/13/2007 11:05:05 AM ET 2007-08-13T15:05:05

Security officers at Cairo airport were horrified when the search of a Saudi passenger's carry-on luggage revealed a mass of live snakes, baby crocodiles and chameleons, police said.

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Police became suspicious of the 22-year-old man's pair of carry-on bags when the X-ray machine at the departure gate gave odd readings. They opened the bags and found a large number of reptiles, including at least one cobra, squirming to escape.

Because transporting live reptiles out of the country is illegal in Egypt, the animals were confiscated and turned over to the Cairo Zoo.

The Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-bound passenger maintained he was unaware of the ban on transporting the creatures and said they were needed by a Saudi university for scientific experiments. He was allowed to board his flight home.

In May, another Saudi was caught carrying 700 live snakes in his carry-on luggage at the Cairo airport. At the time, the man told authorities that snakes were often kept in Saudi Arabia by storekeepers in glass jars or used as pets.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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