Egyptian Cobra Reported Missing at Bronx Zoo

Egyptian Cobra by John Walker.

To celebrate the imminent disappearance of the New York Times from my life, I took a long, slow dance with her in the early-morning light. It was much like a bittersweet wake-up tryst with the lover you always knew you’d be with forever and ever, on the morning of her wedding to the wealthy but evil Duke of Paywall. “Go, my love. Go to him. I know you must develop a functioning revenue model for the 21st century, or risk a significant erosion of your journalistic principles. But I will always be with you. Think of me when you’re with your new online subscribers. Think of me, and know that while I may be too poor to keep you, at least we had this one final time. Now go to your new husband, and I shall return to my family estates at Cheapskate, and dream of you, always…”

Anyway, our lovemaking included some sordid dirty-talk, most notably when she told me all about how an Egyptian Cobra was found missing from the reptile house. I know a gentleman never tells tales, but honestly I just can’t resist. Here’s what she told me while she was lacing her wedding dress:

“The World of Reptiles is closed today,” a sign explaining the closing said. “Staff observed an adolescent Egyptian cobra missing from an off-exhibit enclosure on Friday.”

The Egyptian cobra, a favorite of snake charmers — and probably the asp whose venom Cleopatra used to commit suicide — is a dark snake with a narrow hood, and grows up to two yards in length. (The missing animal was only 20 inches, a zoo employee said.) Native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, it usually preys on toads and birds, not humans, but zookeepers notified the public in an abundance of caution. The snake’s toxins can cause respiratory failure.

The director of the zoo expressed confidence that the snake was still in the reptile house and said the snake would probably avoid open areas. “To understand the situation, you have to understand snakes,” Jim Breheny, the director, said in a written statement. “Upon leaving its enclosure, the snake would feel vulnerable and seek out a place to hide and feel safe. 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.”



The New York Times story was published yesterday, the 27th, but a notice on the Bronx Zoo site is dated the 26th, and says the disappearance happened “yesterday,” as in Friday, March 25th. The notice is still up and the Reptile House is still closed.

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. Based on our knowledge of the natural history and behavior of snakes, we know they seek closed-in spaces and are not comfortable in open areas. We are confident that the snake, about 20 inches long, is contained in a non-public, isolation 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. We are making this information public through the media, and at our ticket windows. The Reptile House will be closed until further notice.



Here’s hoping the cobra hasn’t been reading Techyum.

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