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Sunday, September 18, 2011

'It came with my online shopping': Mystery shopper hands in large hairy tarantula to Chessington Zoo

By Daily Mail Reporter

Fearsome: A mystery woman dropped the large hairy spider off at Chessington Zoo to be looked after

There is always the risk of not knowing exactly what you will get when once you have ordered something online.

But the last thing you would expect to find scuttling around among your goods is a large, hairy tarantula, which is what happened to one mystery shopper.

Horrified by the fearsome looking creature, the middle-aged woman immediately took it to Chessington Zoo, south-west London, where she handed it over.

Creepy critter: It is not known if the spider is poisonous or not so staff use gloves to handle it

'She didn't want to leave any details. She said she'd bought something online, and when it arrived she'd spotted something in the bottom of the box, and she didn't want to keep it,' said Rob Ward, one of the zoo's spider experts, to the Independent.

He said the woman wouldn't say what she ordered or where it came from but several months later staff are still baffled as to what type of species it is. 'It's very fast, it's very aggressive, and it's very big,' he said.

It is thought the creature could be a type of African baboon spider, of which there are at least 49, with around 900 different types of tarantula.

The spiders feed on lizards, small mammals and crickets in the wild but the one being kept at the zoo is being fed on insects.

It spends most of its time hiding away in its enclosure, a large sweet jar in an office where staff work, but sometimes gets a little adventurous and gives workers the run around.

Mr Ward said that it is only handled with gloves, because it might be poisonous, which makes it harder to find out the sex because they are prevented from manipulating it in such a way to find out.

Tests can be performed to find out the exact type and where it is likely to have lived in the past but this can only be done once it has died.

It is only thought to be a couple of years old and currently spends most of its day building a web around some sticks.

Staff have decided not to put it on display, mainly because they are unsure of what it is and wouldn't know how to label it. They also haven't decided on an appropriate name for it.



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