CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

I wasn’t scared, says kitchen worker who found Royal Free tarantula

Kitchen hand said he gave spider some water after it jumped out of a box of bananas

01 December, 2016 — By Tom Foot

A KITCHEN-HAND used a stainless-steel pot to capture a large tarantula on the loose in the Royal Free – before offering the thirsty stowaway a drink of water.

Herwin San Jose, who unpacks food boxes delivered to the Hampstead hospital’s kitchens, insisted he wasn’t frightened after the four-inch tiger rump spider emerged from a box of bananas.

“Spiders don’t scare me,” said Mr Jose. “I saw the spider when I noticed it move next to the box of bananas outside the kitchen. I quickly got a pot and placed it on top of the spider where we kept it safe.

“I wasn’t frightened of the tarantula. I even gave it a little bit of water so it had something to drink until the RSPCA arrived.”

The RSPCA, who rushed down to Pond Street last Thursday, said the spider was “lucky not to have been accidentally chopped and cooked with the other fruit”.

“It looks as though this spider has travelled more than 5,400 miles from its home of Costa Rica to London in a box of bananas,” added RSPCA inspector Anthony Pulfer.

Mr Jose works for OCS Catering, the Royal Free’s private meals contractor, which says it is committed to ethical sourcing of its food and fruit. According to spider experts, the Costa Rica tiger rump tarantula takes its name from copper and black stripe markings on the abdomen. It normally feasts on locusts, crickets and cockroaches in the jungle – but is also partial to bananas and, particularly, fruit flies.

The New Journal understands the sight of the hairy beast bursting out of a box of bananas could trigger extreme heart palpitations in many arachnophobes.

Mr Pulfer added: “I’m sure staff at the hospital are used to seeing their fair share of drama, but not usually of the eight-legged variety.”

The RSPCA took the spider to the charity’s specialist exotics facility in Brighton. Anyone interested in taking the spider as a pet should contact their reptile team at Brighton on 01273 554218.

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