Bronx Zoo staffers are still searching for the Egyptian cobra that escaped its enclosure at the Reptile House on Saturday. Employees believe the 20-inch-long, pencil-thin venomous snake, which is months old and weighs less than three ounces, is hiding somewhere in the building, and that she’ll emerge in “days or even weeks.” Until she’s found, the Reptile House is closed to the public.
“Right now, it’s the snake’s game,” said Jim Breheny, SVP for WCS and Bronx Zoo Director, in a statement. “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. We remain confident that the snake is contained within the Reptile House.”
An anonymous person on Twitter would have folks believe that the cobra left the zoo to take a touristy trek through Manhattan. Tweeting under the name @BronxZoosCobra since Monday, the user has acquired an enviable 35,000-plus followers. According to her Tweets, she’s been celebrity spotting (Tina Fey outside Rockefeller Center), looking to score some tickets to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, seeking out suggestions for a good vegan restaurant (a clever ruse to convince people she’s not all that dangerous?), and my personal favorite:
Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious!
Even twin babies are gabbing about the escaped snake's whereabouts (click here for the hilarious video).
Now for a few actual facts about the Egyptian cobra. In Venomous Snakes of the World, Mark O’Shea writes that the reptile, which can grow to be eight feet long, lives in savanna and dry woodland to semi-desert, and eats mammals, birds, toads, and other snakes. Its venom is a postsynaptic neurotoxin.
|The Egyptian cobra is the cobra of Cleopatra, the royal snake of the Pharaohs and a more likely instrument of her suicide than an ‘asp’, which would have caused a painful and unpleasant death. Egyptian cobras are large snakes that exhibit a fragmented distribution surrounding the Sahara with populations along the Mediterranean coast, across the Sahel south of the Sahara and throughout East Africa. The black Moroccan Atlas Mountains population is sometimes recognized as a separate subspecies, as is the southwest Arabian population. They can raise one-third of their length vertically, and spread a broad, rounded hood, with little provocation.|
One snakebite victim relates his experience, in the book:
“I received a single fang snakebite from a medium sized Egyptian cobra and experienced the rapid onset of neurotoxic symptoms: ptosis (drooping eyelids), flaccid facial paralysis and breathing difficulties before I received antivenom. The effects were rapidly reversed by a combination of antivenom and neostigmine. I was discharged from the hospital the next day.”
According to the National Zoo, “Farmers in rural Africa often see cobras as a mixed blessing. Living with cobras means risking a deadly bite. But people take the risk since cobras eat rodents that can destroy crops and food supplies.”
New Yorkers likely won’t have to take that risk, since Bronx Zoo officials are confident the snake is holed up in the Reptile House. But it’s got me wondering—what might the deadly reptile have to fear? Probably not anything on the mean streets of the city, but the video below indicates that it best watch out for any escaped cobra-fighting honey badgers.