WASHINGTON – The federal tribe has spoken: A contaminated monkey skull, termite-infested statues and other African artifacts of the TV show "Survivor" will not be allowed into the U.S.
Officials disclosed Monday that customs inspectors in Houston seized a variety of restricted items that were being shipped to the U.S. in a container belonging to the CBS reality show. Among the items: the hide from an African cat suspected of carrying a dangerous disease, a mandrill skull, civet hides, parrot, poultry and ostrich feathers, bones and cowries shells.
The 17th edition of "Survivor" took place in the West African nation of Gabon, the country from which the container was shipped. The final episode was shown Sunday night.
The imports were seized Nov. 18 out of concern that they were contaminated with pests and disease that could harm U.S. agriculture, according to officials. Civet cats are mongoose-like animals that are a delicacy in China and are suspected of spreading severe acute respiratory syndrome — SARS — to humans. Inspectors also found wooden statues with termites.
The restricted goods were fumigated by the Agriculture Department, said Customs spokeswoman Yolanda Chaotes. She said the prohibited items were sent away from the U.S. and no decision has been made about penalties on the importer.
Jeffery Baldwin Sr., Custom's director of field operations at the Houston port, said: "Introducing an exotic disease or pest could harm our citizens or devastate our agriculture crops."
Officials from "Survivor" did not return immediate requests for comment. Contestants are eliminated from the show each week with the mantra: "The tribe has spoken."