Bronx Zoo cobra found in its reptile house
Thursday, March 31, 2022 8:12 PM

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(Source: Associated Press/AP Online)By CRISTIAN SALAZAR

NEW YORK - A highly venomous Egyptian cobra that went missing at the Bronx Zoo was found Thursday after nearly a week on the lam, zoo officials said.

The approximately 24-inch snake was found coiled in a dark corner of the zoo's reptile house, about 200 feet from where it had escaped from a holding cage outside the exhibit into a space describe by officials as a "labyrinth" of pipes and equipment.

"As you can imagine, we are delighted to report that the snake has been found alive and well," the zoo's director, Jim Breheny, said during a news conference as he stood in front of a huge picture of the snake projected on a screen.

The reptile house had closed last Friday after the snake disappeared and zoo workers couldn't find it.

The snake quickly became the stuff of urban legend. Someone even started pretending to be the cobra on Twitter and sent fake updates to legions of followers.

Breheny said the snake was "resting comfortably and secure" and was being evaluated to make sure it was in good condition. He said it had been placed in the same area as the other venomous snakes and would likely be put on display for the public.

He said the zoo would likely holding a naming contest for the cobra, which it obtained in February.

The snake was captured at about 9 a.m. Thursday. Wood shavings that had been used as bedding for rats and mice were put out to lure the 3-ounce adolescent snake out of hiding, said Breheny, who explained that "snakes hunt by olfactory means."

"It was merely the scent of the rodents that we hoped would bring her out," he said.

Zoo workers also worked to reduce noise and dimmed the lights to make the environment more comforting, he said.

"We had to give her a chance to feel secure and comfortable so she would come out and explore her environment," he said.

"We were fairly confident that she would come out and she did," he later added.

Breheny said the zoo is evaluating its protocols to make sure the snake doesn't escape again. Zoo officials hope to reopen the reptile house next week.

Meanwhile, BronxZoosCobra on Twitter had stopped posting messages sometime Thursday.

"Oh, this isn't over," the person wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press in response to a request for comment on the capture of the snake. "They have only awakened the Bronx Zoo's Cobra nation."

Breheny said the "lighthearted" tone of the Twitter spoof was a sign that most people were confident in the Bronx zoo workers' skills.

"We appreciated that element, but at the same time we needed to stay focused on recovering the animal, because it was a serious issue," he said.

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