Bronx Zoo Reptile House Closed After Poisonous Snake Goes Missing

Zoo said reptile house closed after a staff member noticed cobra missing.

ByABC News
March 27, 2011, 2:02 PM

March 27, 2011— -- Lookout, New York -- a poisonous cobra snake may be on the loose today from the Bronx Zoo.

In a statement released Saturday, the Bronx Zoo said that their reptile house was closed after a staff member noticed that an adolescent Egyptian cobra was missing from an off-exhibit enclosure.

"After learning the snake was missing yesterday afternoon, we immediately closed and secured the building as we took steps throughout the evening to recover the snake," the statement read.

Egyptian cobras are known for being uncomfortable in open areas, so the missing snake is expected to be in a closed-off space. Officials are confident that the 20-inch long snake is currently in a non-public, isolated area within the building.

"We are informing the public out of an abundance of caution and will continue to take whatever steps necessary to ensure public safety," Bronx Zoo officials said in the statement.

The snake was housed in an enclosure that is not even open to the public, according to New York blog

The Zoo's reptile house will be closed until further notice.

"We are confident that the snake is secure within the Reptile House. To understand the situation, you have to understand snakes. Upon leaving its enclosure, the snake would feel vulnerable and seek out a place to hide and feel safe," said Jim Breheny, Senior Vice President for the Wildlife Conservation Society and Director of the Bronx Zoo.

"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," he added.

The Egyptian cobra, which can grow to be between five and eight feet, is recognizable for its uniquely large and broad head and broad snout. The snake's venom quantity can reach 175 to 200 mg in a single bite, stopping nerve signals to the muscles, heart and lungs, and can cause death from complete respiratory failure.