08/16/2013 11:23 EDT | Updated 10/16/2013 05:12 EDT

N.B. boys' python deaths prompts provincial review

New Brunswick Premier David Alward is promising a review of provincial exotic wildlife regulations after two boys were killed by a python in Campbellton earlier this month.

An African rock python kept in an apartment above Reptile Ocean escaped its enclosure and asphyxiated Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor, 6, during a sleepover.

Alward said the ongoing police investigation is the priority, but the provincial government will also look at whether it needs to change its policies or regulations.

"You can be certain that various government departments, various levels of government, need to know and understand the regulations that are in place, and are there gaps in place that could eliminate problems or reduce risk in the future?"

Alward made the comments on Friday, following a news conference on the One-Job Pledge initiative. It was the first time any provincial official has taken questions on the issue since the boys' bodies were discovered on Aug. 5.

In an e-mail statement last week, the provincial Department of Natural Resources said African rock pythons are not permitted in New Brunswick.

The only exceptions granted would be for accredited zoos, not for someone to keep an illegal exotic animal as a pet, officials said.

Reptile Ocean is an unlicensed zoo and pet store, according to officials.

It's believed the python escaped through the top of a glass enclosure and into a ventilation system. The python, which was 4.3 metres long and weighed about 45 kilograms, fell through the ceiling and into the room where the two boys were sleeping.

Earlier this week, a former employee of Reptile Ocean alleged that the python escaped because of human error involving a missing ventilation fan in its enclosure.