Illustration for article titled Some Pressing Questions About the 3,950 Illegally Imported Leeches Currently Stuck in Canada
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Our neighbors to the north currently have, as you might have guessed, 3,950 non-indigenous leeches stuck in customs limbo. “How did such a large number of leeches end up there?” you, a total rube, might ask. I promise you, this goes much deeper.


The bizarre yarn begins with an October incident at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, where a man at was found to be carrying thousands of live leeches in his bags. Many details about the slimy discovery are still not public, but the broad outline was was first reported by National Geographic last week. So far, this blood-sucking mystery has left us with more questions than answers.

Who would try to import thousands of leeches and why?

Currently, we don’t know anything about the alleged leech courier or his motivations, other than he is a he, and that this he was flying from Russia.


Okay, I’m listening. Where do you store thousands of leeches, eight and a half miles in the sky?

He was reportedly caught by a Canada Border Services Agency beagle which smelled something weird in his luggage so... carry-on? It seems like, yeah, he just put them in his bags, and the bags were filled with “hundreds of containers” of leeches.

But he was flying to Toronto.

That’s right. What difference does that make?

Well the Western-most international airport in Russia with service to Toronto is in Belgorod, which is, at a minimum, a 16-hour flight away. Someone sat next to those bags for the better part of a day and at no point said, “Hey, your luggage absolutely reeks of leeches”? 


That’s oddly specific knowledge of Russian international flight but yeah, I guess so.

What do you say when you’re caught with 3,950 leeches?



It was 5,000 initially. The Royal Ontario Museum reportedly agreed to take 50 of them, and then the American Museum of Natural History grabbed another 1,000, but yeah, authorities say the leech guy illegally imported 5,000 in his luggage.


And I suppose someone sat there and counted all of them by hand?

We asked Canada’s Centre of Environment and Climate Change about that. They haven’t replied yet but probably someone had the very tedious job of counting and cataloging 5,000 individual leeches.


Moving on, what do you say when you’re caught with 5,000 leeches? 

According to National Geographic, the manclaimed that the leeches in his possession were for personal use and that their waste water would enrich his orchids.”


Who was taking care of these orchids while he was in Russia gathering thousands of leeches? Seems like irresponsible horticultural practice.

You can say that again.

Who was taking care of these orchids while he was in Russia gathering thousands of leeches? Seems like irresponsible horticultural practice.


Did you have anything else to ask or were you just planning on wasting my time?

Are leeches valuable in any way, or did this guy just really love leeches?

Again, according to National Geographic, they can be worth around $10 each, but as they say, anything’s worth what people will pay for them. In this case that might be not very much, since all of Canada’s hospitals reportedly only really need 500 to 1,000 per year.


The more I learn about this the less I feel I know. Did the dog who found the leeches at least get a raise?

Given that the Border Services Agency wouldn’t share the dog’s name or gender, we can’t say for sure, but we did reach out to make sure he or she was appropriately compensated.


Is that it then? Are we ever gonna find out what was up with all these goddamn leeches?

Hard to say, but an official with the Centre of Environment and Climate Change told National Geographic that leech guy is due for a court hearing next month.


[National Geographic]

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// Keybase: Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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