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Snake shirt on a plane: Kiwi lad ordered to change 'anxiety'-causing garment at airport

The parents of a 10-year-old New Zealand boy have expressed dismay after the child was ordered to take off his shirt before boarding a plane at a South African airport because it was snake-themed. 

Stevie Lucas of Wellington had been wearing an Australian Zoo reptile shirt at O.R. Thambo when airport staff told him to take the shirt off and put on another, according to Netwerk 24.

The family had been holidaying on South Africa's Western Cape to visit family. 

Stevie had inherited his love for reptiles from his dad, and the family said they often visit pet stores to look at snakes and bugs while in South Africa.

A security officer told Stevie's mum, Marga Lucas, toys and snake prints were not allowed on flight, the local television station reported. 

Ms Lucas told her son to turn the shirt inside out to prevent further confrontation. The family were reportedly told no toy or rubber snakes were allowed on the flight either.  

Airport spokesperson Betty Maloka told Netwerk 24 the shirt could be prohibited under rules set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. 

Maloka said the security officers have the right to decide if an item could harm fellow passengers or crew by causing anxiety.