29 March 2011

Female Egyptian cobra escapes from the Bronx Zoo

Dear people of the Bronx, I don’t mean to alarm you or anything but THERE’S A COBRA MISSING FROM THE BRONX ZOO! Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll calm down, but seriously HOW COULD THE BRONX ZOO LET A COBRA ESCAPE? Ok, deep breathes, calming down.

The 20-inch adolescent female Egyptian cobra went missing from her enclosure last Saturday. Zoo officials closed the reptile house and began an immediate search. The cobra is believed to still be hiding in some warm nook or cranny in the reptile house, and zoo keepers say it is unlikely the snake will venture out into the cold weather.

The Egyptian cobra, also known as an asp, is a native of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Their venom can be deadly to humans, causing respiratory failure within minutes.

Zoo officials said that it could take weeks to recover the pencil-thin snake. Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny said, “When the snake gets hungry or thirsty, it will start to move around the building. Once that happens, it will be our best opportunity to recover it."

Meanwhile, in lieu of freaking out, New Yorkers have made the snake the talk of the town, and someone is now tweeting for the fanged fugitive under the Twitter handle BronxZoosCobra.

A couple of the slithering serpents tweets are: "Anyone know a good vegan restaurant near Union Square?" and “Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious!”

Though Egyptian cobras usually eat rodents, maybe this one prefers seitan.

Zoo officials, responding to the public’s concern, posted this update on their website today:
We understand the interest in this story and that everyone wants us to find the missing snake. Right now, it’s the snake’s game. At this point, it’s just like fishing; you put the hook in the water and wait. Our best strategy is patience, allowing her time to come out of hiding.

The difficulty is that the 20-inch, pencil-thin snake, which is months old and weighs less than 3 ounces, has sought out a secure hiding spot within the Reptile House. The holding areas of the Reptile House are extremely complex environments with pumps, motors and other mechanical systems. In this complex environment, she will likely remain in hiding and not move until she feels completely secure...As this may take days or even weeks, daily updates should not be expected. As the situation changes we will share any information with you. But now, we need to focus our attention and energy on recovery strategies.

Let’s just hope there’s a good lock on the tiger exhibit.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw | email
Robin lives in New York City and writes about all things animal, vegetable, and sometimes mineral at her blog wildnewyorkblog.com. Visit her there to read about animal friendly lifestyles in the Big Apple and beyond. Feel free to add Robin as a friend on Facebook.

Photo credit: Bronx Zoo